Dream Big and Go All In!

Dream Big and Go All InAfter taking care of my mom for the three weeks following her back surgery, I spent a quiet Saturday writing and catching up on things around the house.  At the end of the day, my son Benjamin walked up, put his arm around my shoulders and said, “Who knew work could be so much fun!”

I smiled.  It feels pretty amazing to be understood by your 14 year-old son!  It had been a great day.  I love my work and Ben noticed.  He saw it written all over my face and in my body language.

As parents we always have an audience, and they see us at our worst and at our best.  My prayer is that my kids will see the same love and passion when I’m working and when we’re gathered around the dinner table.  I hope that they notice that I’m ALL IN whether I am serving, resting, working, or just being with them.

The time I spent with my mom was priceless.  She isn’t the type to stay in one place for very long, and I had her all to myself.  I’m so glad I cleared my schedule so I could just be with her.  I painted her nails, did her laundry and bossed her around a bit!  I was ALL IN and it was worth every minute.

Unfortunately, the drudgery of the day-to-day grind can keep us from being intentional.  We let the urgent dictate our steps, stopping us from living lives of meaning and purpose.  Selfishness keeps us from going ALL IN and we look to serve our own interest over the interests of others.  Weariness keeps us from going ALL IN because our attentions are divided and we are unable to be present and in the moment.

As we approach Easter I can’t help but think of how Jesus went ALL IN for us.

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.  He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.  This includes you who were once far away from God.” (Colossians 1:19-21 NLT)

God’s big dream for you is that you would be in relationship with Him, a relationship that He went ALL IN for.  My prayer is that you will go ALL IN with Jesus and begin to dream big—going ALL IN with your family, your friends, your career, and your whole life!

What keeps you from dreaming big and going all in?   

 

Do You Find Rest For Your Soul?

Do You Find Rest For Your Soul?SPECIAL NOTE: Today I am reposting a blog from last Spring and taking my own advice to stop, breathe and rest.  I hope you will find time to do the same!

After spending the last five days in sunny southern California my heart is full.  Taken out of the structure of my usual routine, I found myself more aware of the beauty all around me.  I was able to stop and breathe and, most importantly, to rest.

My family will tell you that I often notice beautiful things:  a blossoming cheery tree, the first daffodils of early spring, and the ever changing shades of green in the lovely Northwest.  However, even though I notice and comment on nature, I will seldom stop and breathe and rest.  I will rarely pause and drink in the deep satisfaction found in the snowcapped mountains and the rushing streams.  I will notice, but I will not rest.

This week I discovered beauty in the Vineyards of Murrieta,DSCN1388 and the wonder in the swaying palm trees of Newport Beach.  I found beauty in smell of the salty ocean air and the white foam of the crashing waves.  I learned that beauty is found in the laughter of friends, and in the still small voice of my creator.  I witnessed the beauty of forgiveness and surrender.

All of this reminded me of Jesus, our shepherd, as He is described in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside quiet waters,

He refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

for His name’s sake. 

Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)

how to you find rest for your soulJesus wants to lead each one of us to a place of rest and restoration.  But often we think we don’t have time for this kind of rest.  I am learning that it is while we are journeying through life that we come to these places where we can stop and breathe and find rest for our souls.

Wouldn’t it be a sad if we noticed this beauty but did not allow for the beauty to quiet our hearts and bring healing to our souls?

Today as I step back into my life that is full of calendars, appointments, and responsibilities I vow to see the beauty all around me as a gift to restore my soul and I will rest.

How have you found rest for your soul? 

*My next blog will post April 17th

 

Winning Book Cover for How to Love Your Crazy Family!

How to Love Your Crazy FamilyThank you for choosing my book cover!  I appreciate all the comments and suggestions but the blue cover won by a landslide!  What would I do without you?  In just a few short weeks you’ll be able to buy the book (my book-WOOHOO) on amazon and even though you can’t see me right now I’m doing a little happy dance around my house–I’m seriously excited!

Thank you again for all your help and for celebrating with me!  What’s going on in your life?  How can I celebrate with YOU?

Confessions of an Imperfect Parent

ConfessionofanImperfectParentI have a confession to make:  When life is stressful (and really, when isn’t it?) I turn into a drill sergeant.  My intentions are good—sort of.  Life is spinning out of control and things are in chaos.   I have the answer if only the kids will follow my directives.  I can see the tranquility now:  Piano music playing in the background, the trickling sounds of a soft waterfall and a crackling fire in the fireplace.  But, for whatever reason, NO ONE sees my vision.  Tranquility rarely comes by the way of the drill sergeant.

Can you relate?  Have you tried to bring order to chaos with the whistle of a drill sergeant?  Do you demand your way with a stern voice or a disapproving look?  I’m not referring to discipline, guidelines or structure; I’m talking about the difference between parenting that wins the heart and parenting that breaks the heart.

This past weekend I heard Pastor Denise Hance speak at the SHE LEADS Conference in Snoqualmie, Washington.  The title of her message peeked my interest right away—“It’s Hard to Be a Border Collie.”  Border collies were bred to herd sheep.  They love to control their environment.  Who knew I had something in common with a border collie?  While herding a flock of sheep, the dogs will nip at their feet to get them where they want them to go.

I suddenly saw myself herding my kids out the door to piano lessons… herding them around the house to do their chores… herding them.

Denise said: “It’s more productive to shepherd than to herd.  Shepherding can heal.  Herding can hurt.”

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV)

I’m so grateful that Jesus is a shepherd gently leading me to the truth, no matter how many times I fail.  It’s such a comfort to know that He’s willing to go after that one lamb who has lost its way and bring it back to the flock.  C.S. Lewis wrote that, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”

This isn’t the first time that the Lord has reminded me how important gentleness is in my parenting.  I’m sure it won’t be the last.  It might be easier to give into my inner drill sergeant, but it won’t be more fruitful.  It won’t bring about the lasting heart change that really matters.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:17-18 ESV)

What are your confessions? What truth is the Lord gently reminding you of today?  How will it change your relationships?

Going to Indonesia!

Made Over Flier-page-001Have you ever felt like God was planning your life behind your back?  That’s exactly how I felt as I sat in a Sunday morning service this past November listening to missionary John Taylor speak.  While watching a video of John and Korie’s work in Surabaya, Indonesia I had the unmistakable sense that I would soon be seeing it first-hand.  How or why I had no idea.

When the service ended Korie approached me and asked me how I was doing and mentioned that she had been reading my blog.  I could hardly believe it!  We talked about our families and out of nowhere I said, “Do you know the story of Michael and I and our discovery that he has bipolar disorder?”  This isn’t my usual conversation starter.  In fact, I rarely bring this up.  But it was almost as if it fell right out of my mouth.

Korie’s eyes watered.  She said that there are women in her church struggling in their marriages and also those who have husbands with bipolar disorder.  “Would you ever consider coming to Indonesia and speaking for a women’s conference?  We’ve never done an event like this before but have been praying about who to ask and would love for you to come.”

It was my turn to cry.  How could I say no?  I knew God had prepared the way.

The following week, while talking with Korie about the details, I asked what she thought about having my dear friend and fellow minister Angela Craig come and speak at the conference. Little did I know that she had spoken with Angela earlier that week and had secretly wanted to ask her to come but was afraid and felt shy.  Korie was beyond excited!

The beautiful story of Angela’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury comes at the perfect time for the church in Surabaya.  Their own Executive Pastor Poedji has  suffered through a terrible car accident and spent a month in a coma (Click here to see more of this story).  While he is facing a daunting journey of reclaiming his former abilities we are thrilled that Angela will be able to encourage both his family and church during this pivotal time.

We all live to the glory of God and know that ultimately His grace and mercy will be evident through this struggle.  We can’t help but think of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John:

This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3 NIV)

going to indonesiaWhile in Indonesia, Angela and I will be providing leadership training, speaking for the conference, as well as speaking for the Sunday morning and evening services.  We are so excited to see how the Lord has put all of this together and are confident that He will provide the finances to cover the airfare needed.  We are investing in the women who will be coming from Surabaya, Jakarta and surrounding areas to seek God and learn more about training up leaders to serve Him.  We hope that you will invest with us—through prayer—as we prepare and go.

If you would like to donate toward our trip you can send donations to:  Northwest Ministry Network c/o Angela Craig 35131 SE Douglas St. Suite 200 Snoqualmie, WA 98065

How has God interrupted your life with an unexpected plan?  What was your response?  Comment below!

The Power of Your Words

the power of your wordsAfter graduating high school I moved from Southern California to Minneapolis to attend college.  There’s usually a stunned silence whenever I tell people that this was by choice.  Throughout the bitterly cold winters (complete with icicles on the INSIDE of the windows!) I did what everyone did (pre email, internet, cell phones, and unlimited long distance):  I wrote letters.

There is power in the written word, and something special about making a connection with people across the miles.  I wrote letters to my family and friends, but I also wrote to a few mentors who graciously took the time to invest in my life.  I found courage from each word as people shared their lives, experiences, and encouragement with me.

Today we live in a much faster-paced society, but the power of our words hold no less weight.  Perhaps they hold even more.  They are…

Hope for the weary soul

Courage for the disheartened

Rest for the burdened

Healing for the broken

In fact, there are times when I am ready to give up writing, ready to settle for status quo, ready to give up on my dreams and that’s when one of you will send me an encouraging word:

“Appreciate your words of wisdom. Keep it coming!”

“Great thoughts, Angela.  You’ve done a great job of articulating this principle and helping us move toward the things we must not neglect.”

“Thank you so much for the beautiful reminder that there is so much more to each moment of life then getting through it.”

“Thank you for the challenge dear friend! Love you!”

“That is awesome! Thank you again for your encouraging words.”

Through the power of words, forgiveness is granted, love is given, and lives are transformed.  Perhaps this is why Solomon wrote:

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue… (Proverbs 18:21 ESV)

Today, and every day, use the power your words to speak life!

Who will you choose to speak life to this week?

Lessons I Learned From My Mother-Part 2

The Lessons I Learned From My MotherMore often than not, and sometimes whether appropriate or not, my mother approaches stressful situations with laughter and humor.  Over the years I have witnessed her stifle a laugh, exchange funny expressions and knowing glances that would send all of us into hysterics.  This usually happened in church or other places where most parents are giving their kids the evil eye to stay quiet or else.

As a result, I’m not surprised that her recent stay in the hospital for a serious back surgery wasn’t any different.  One of my favorite moments is her first appointment with the occupational therapist.  Right as she began the therapy session my mother informed her that she needed to go to the restroom.  The lady looked panicked, “I’m not gonna miss this!”  And she ran out of the room.  We both started laughing while trying to get my mother into the bathroom before the woman came back with her video camera and crew.

Perhaps it’s even more important to laugh in the most difficult and painful times in our lives.  “We are just about as happy as we make up our mind to be.”  This quote is even more powerful knowing that Abraham Lincoln wrote it; a man acquainted with clinical depression and the loss of his children.  Even facing the most difficult circumstances our will has an important part to play in the equation.

Throughout the week that my mother spent in the hospital I watched her lighten the load of others with her cheerful spirit.  She would sincerely ask how the nurses, assistants, and therapists were doing.  She’d smile and crack a joke.  She wasn’t putting on a brave show, she was making life sweeter—even in the bitter times.

Are you facing a time of pain or suffering?  Does the thought of laughing at a time like this seem almost inappropriate?  It’s actually the best time because laughter has been proven to reduce pain and stress.  Laughter is like an internal massage for our organs.

This lesson that started when I was a little girl and is continuing on into adulthood, is one that I treasure:  Laughter is sweet.  Laughter is a gift we give and receive. Laughter is healing.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22 NLT)

Special Note:  To all those who have been praying for my mom—her recovery is coming along, slowly but surely.  It has been 2 ½ weeks since the surgery and the doctors are happy with her progress.  The swelling is down and she is settling into the slower pace (not so easy for her!).  We have been amazed by the many acts of kindness: meals, flowers, cards and cheerful calls.  The encouragement is such a blessing!

Vote Now!

Vote Now!Last month I wrote a post entitled Creating Room in Your Busy Schedule where I talked about clearing my calendar to work on my current writing project:  How to Love Your Crazy Family–52 Quick Reads for No Ordinary Days.  If you’ve ever felt like your family was going crazy and you were going crazy right along with them than you’re in good company.  This devotional focuses on loving and living with purpose in all our relationships.

I would love your help with deciding on my book cover.  Would you take a minute to VOTE and tell me which cover you like best?  Here are the two options:

#1

6x9Cover-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2

6x9Cover-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow this link to vote on Facebook or simply comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!  Your vote is important to me.  Thank you so much!

 

Lessons I Learned From My Mother-Part 1

JennyAngela1976The lessons we learn from our mothers don’t stop the day we spread our wings and fly the nest. I’m realizing this now more than ever.

As many of you know, my mother underwent a major back surgery March 3, 2014.  The procedure is difficult to explain, but the surgery took six hours, the scar is 12 inches long, she spent 6 days in the hospital and the totally recovery will take 12 months.  Watching her go through this challenging first week of recovery is harder than I could have imagined.

Prayer

One of the first things she quietly said to me after surgery (between throwing up and trying to get comfortable in the hospital bed) was, “I felt so badly for the nurse in recovery.  He was like a robot.  No feelings whatsoever.  I’ve been praying for him.”  Praying for him?  I thought.  I wondered if I would have been so gracious.

Throughout the week this became a pattern.  While I was praying for my mother—who desperately needed it—she would be praying for others.  Even while heavily medicated she started praying for those who were facing struggles and sickness and people who needed courage and strength.  Other times she would just whisper the name of Jesus, telling the Lord that she trusts Him.

I sat marveling at the way she could think of others while her pain was so intensely palpable.  She never cried out, but only whispered, “Angela, can you help me.”

Oswald Chambers writes that “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” 

Many times we face problems that only seem to grow as we analyze them.  Even in prayer we feel that we need to run down all the details and as we do our problems seem big and our God seems small.  Yet if we choose to turn away from our difficulties and turn our eyes towards God we are encouraged and uplifted.  We become more aware of the truth that Paul writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

If you are facing pain and heartache, please know that you are not alone.  God is with you.  He hears your prayers and He is working in you an eternal purpose that matters—now and forever.

Special Note:  Thank you to everyone who is praying for my mom!  She has a long recovery ahead but she is so encouraged by your prayers and is improving every day.

 

Surgery and Time Off

live a life of loveThis morning at 7:30 am, my mother is having a serious back surgery.  She is in extreme pain and this is preventing her from living her life to the fullest.  After attending her pre-operative appointment I understand exactly what she is facing.  While I know that this surgery is necessary, it’s difficult to think of the doctors making a 9 inch incision in her back and operating.

My mother is known for her sincere love, practical care and genuine heart.  She serves everyone around her without expectation and without recognition—for this is simply who she is.  Now it’s time for her to receive this same love and devotion.  I’ve learned from the best and I will give it my all!

Will you please pray?  Pray for her surgery and her recovery.  Pray for rest and restoration.  Pray for my family as we rally around her to give what she has already given to us.  I am confident that our prayers will be answered!

How about you?  I’d love to return the favor and pray for you as well!  Please don’t hesitate to drop me a note in the comments or at angela@noordinarydays.com

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7 NIV)

Special Note:  I’ll be taking some time off blogging this week to help care for my mom.