It's hard to believe that the year is over at midnight tonight. One thing I like about New Year's Eve is the feeling that at the stroke of midnight, I have a clean slate. It may not be that I won’t have to deal with the consequences, results, or rewards of the past year’s decisions, but it does mean that I have the ability to do things different than I did before.
Now, I’m not talking about making New Year’s resolutions. Most people who have lived long enough on this earth realize that they usually don’t last past January 15th—if even that long. No, what I’m talking about is having a feeling of hope that the past is behind you and a new path awaits you. It’s time to forge past all the failures of your past, not ignoring them but learning from them. It’s time to write a new chapter in your book of life. It’s time to put you dreams into motion. And if you have no dreams, it’s time to start dreaming. See, with a new year, comes new opportunities for advancement and improvement. A new year brings with it the opportunity for redemption, to redeem yourself to those who have lost trust and faith in you.
So, don’t take the start of this New Year for granted. Take the time to reflect in retrospect on see where you are right now—in an honest light, of course. Don’t beat yourself up if you have still not accomplished your goals. And for sure, don’t start out the New Year in regret. Instead, know that you have another new opportunity to right the wrongs, to make things better, and to make a difference.
Tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, you have a clean slate, a fresh page, and a new hope for a better you and a brighter future!
Leave me a note. Let me know what you're believing for this next year. Or, let me know how you're feeling now that this year is almost over.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Valentine’s Day is almost here—woo hoo!!! . . . and so is the much-anticipated movie, Fifty Shades of Grey. Wow, now that sounds like an incredibly romantic Valentine’s date night!
You know, can I just be honest here? Whatever you do with your spouse in the privacy of your bedroom, behind closed doors is your business. If you have to resort to s and m to get your freak on, well, that’s entirely your business. But, in the name of all things good and pure, please teach your daughters that they do not have to subject themselves to this type of demoralizing treatment. Teach them that these acts are not acts of “love”—in any universe. Teach them that they are worth more than that and don’t have to be treated like a piece of meat. Please tell them that they don’t have to submit their bodies to being disrespected and violated in the name of “love” or even “fantasy,” as far as that goes. And as for your sons, please teach them that they are to love and respect the ladies in their lives. Yes, even when they don’t act, talk, or dress like ladies! I know that stabs a knife in the huge sacred cow of feminism and what many young men think these days. I have always told our boys, if the young ladies they hang around or get close to don’t know how to behave and act like ladies, then they need to steer clear of them; because they are toxic and will destroy their life!
It’s hard enough on our teenagers, having to face all the social pressures that they feel everywhere they go. Movies/books like, Fifty Shades of Grey, only make it harder for them. It gives them yet one more thing that they are going to have to either live up to or deal with.
I know some might think this type of sexual deviance is harmless—if even, maybe “sexy.”—when done between two consenting adults. But, there are several things wrong with that line of thinking on a few different levels.
Personally, I have a problem with it for a few reasons.
Many years ago, there was a man who lived in my home town (the same time I lived there); who after several years, was caught and arrested for sexually torturing, and violently sodomizing women, mutilating multiple parts of their anatomy. (I hope you get the picture without me having to go into more graphic detail.) This sexual deviant CRIMINAL was a violent predator who lured women using alcohol and drugs to what was later discovered as his so-called “toybox.” There, in his torture chamber of devices, equipment, restraints—some he made, some ordinary household and yard tools that were used for common purposes—all were used to repeatedly and sadistically rape, and sexually torture these women for long periods of time, eventually killing them. As if it wasn’t horrifying enough, this degenerate invited others to “join the party” and participate in his gory sex games.
He would have continued to rape, sodomize, and torture other women for Lord knows how long, except for the incredible courage and survival instincts of one woman who somehow escaped his torture chamber. People found her running down road naked, delusional, and horrified. He was soon afterwards found, his “toybox” discovered, and was arrested and set to stand trial. Unfortunately, this sadistic killer died of a heart attack before he could be brought to “justice”—if there even is justice that is sufficient for his horrific sexual crimes.
When the story broke, it rocked our entire community. Things like that just don’t happen there. It wasn’t Mayberry, but pretty darn close! That’s something you watch on tv true crime programs or see in the news in larger cities like New York City or L.A., not in our little one-stoplight town. Police officers and detectives, who had to conduct the investigation of this heinous torture chamber, were horrified at what they found and witnessed with their own eyes.
For me, the scary thing was not that this happened in my hometown, but that the young man who was found and arrested as one of his co-conspirators and who participated in the sexual rape, torture, and murder of these women lived right across the street from me when I was in high school. He was caught peeping in my windows but was scared off by a boyfriend of mine.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this movie/book stirred up other sexual deviants just like these, arousing in a way that regular, healthy relationships should, but don’t. Consequently, they will resort to living out their own twisted, demented fantasy based on this book/movie. So, when you ask me if Fifty Shades of Grey is innocent, playful, or sexy, I say, “Absolutely not!” I would bet the women who this man from my hometown tortured using bondage and s and m didn’t think it was sexy either.
*But, by all means, let’s have small book reading parties, have some lattes, and talk about how sexy it is. Let’s take our husbands, wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends to this movie, so we can “learn” how to really treat the loved ones in our lives. Yes, please, let’s support this sadistic, violent, pornographic, and sadomasochistic movie and make the author even richer than she is right now. Let’s help make the world a better place by encouraging sexual deviance and immoral behavior that completely disregards and demoralizes others. Yes, put our daughters in even more danger when they’re at school, away at college; at a club, a restaurant, or the gym.
And, while we’re at it, we might as well help our sons better themselves by destroying their lives with rape, molestation, and sexual abuse charges that will follow them the rest of their lives, making them publicly labeled as a registered sex offender. Yeah, that will definitely help them get into college and pave the way for them to build a bright future. But, listen, Mom and Dad, be ready for “Junior” to have to live with you the rest of your lives; because he’ll have a difficult time finding a place to live who accepts registered sex offenders. Of course, they might help him with the landscaping and décor of his yard by making him put up a sign in the yard or the window saying, “A Registered Sex Offender Lives Here.” (Yes, I have seen that before.) Your future granddaughters and grandsons will for sure appreciate their actions, which will prevent them from having friends over or fun slumber parties and sleep overs. I’m sure their confidence will be strengthened when all their friends at school find out that Daddy is a registered sex offender. It is sure to turn that Fifty Shades of Grey to total blackness, as looms over their lives---all of them—for as long as they live. If you’re lucky, maybe it’ll even be passed on to the next generation. Now, that’s a real legacy of love.
By all means, let’s go see Fifty Shades of Grey! Let’s do! (*disgusted sarcasm)
I talk to my popcorn.
Yes, you read that right. I said, “I talk to my popcorn.” I really do.
For health reasons, I’ve never been able to eat microwavable bag popcorn. However, I can eat just plain, air-popped popcorn—and I love it!
Now, after the popcorn kernels that were going to pop . . . popped and flew out of the air-popper machine into my bowl, something would happen that always made me jump and scared me. You’re probably thinking, “How could anyone be scared with an air-popper machine?” Well, usually, I eat popcorn when I’m working and I’m sleepy and need to stay awake. So, I’m already half out of it to begin with. So, when this used to happen, it usually scared me pretty badly—and irritated me, too.
What always made me jump was when I turned off the air popper, sometimes even unplugging it, there was always one—maybe two, but most definitely one—popcorn kernel that would pop loudly and jump out of the machine and into my bowl . . . or on the counter.
Yeah, that loud “Pop!” always made me jump, until . . .
One day, I realized that even after that loud machine was turned off, there was ALWAYS going to be one renegade popcorn kernel that popped loudly and jumped out of the machine. So, I started standing there by the machine saying, “Wait for it! Wait for it! Here it comes!” anticipating it!
Yep, just like clockwork! Out of the machine and into the bowl that popped kernel flew.
Eventually, I got amused by it and started calling it my “Renegade!”
There were several other kernels that for whatever reason never popped. Some popped a little bit, but never enough to fly out of the popper. It was almost like that one little renegade popcorn kernel said, “Man, I’m not staying in here one more second! I’m gettin’ outta here!”
Then, I got to laughing one day, thinking about it and thought, “Man, how many times have we watched while others around us were “blowing up” and flying out of their “nest” or their “containment” and into great things, while all we felt was the heat of being tossed around in the machine (of life), feeling like we were never able to escape the status quo and launch out into our awesome purpose. Their careers were blowing up, their ministries were exploding, their businesses were taking off, their . . .
You get the point?
It seemed like they were going somewhere—anywhere—but there we were just stuck in the same place, not being able to break out of mediocrity, feeling insignificant. As I thought about what was going on there, I realized that we had to have the tenacity of that last, renegade popcorn kernel! We have to have the attitude that nothing is going to keep us back! Nothing is going to hold us down and keep us from finding our purpose. We have to have that same perseverance that says, “I’m gettin’ outta here!!!”
So, go ahead! Make some noise! If you’ve been confined to one spot for a long time and you feel like you’re going nowhere or you feel like you’ve been treading on heat of hell’s flames for a while, bust out of that place where you've felt stuck!
BE A RENEGADE AND GET UP OUT OF THERE!!
YOU CAN DO IT!
YOU’RE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK!
P.S. I’d love to hear your feedback. Post them here on the blog, if you would! And if you like what you read, "like" it and then share this link with others on your social media profiles!
There is an epidemic of fear in our world today. You don’t have to be a prophetic giant or Biblical scholar to recognize this. All you have to do is turn on your tv to CNN or Fox News and see the chaos and craziness going on in the world. There is political unrest rising up from all around us, from the Middle East to Africa to Asia and Europe and even right at our back door, in Mexico. There are more than just “rumors of wars” in Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Israel with literally no end in sight and no viable solutions. Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, dangerously and audaciously mirroring some actions and mindsets of the infamous Hitler, seems to have one goal: to restore Mother Russia to its former glory. You can watch in full, high-definition color as ISIS ravages through city after city, marking Christians with a symbol, marking their death; while treacherously committing heinous acts of terror and the mass slaughtering of people . . . just for the glory of it. So far, they have successfully terrorized people even half way around the world.
From my dyed blonde roots down to my skinny pinky toes, I'm a full-on, child of the 80's. One of my favorite old songs is Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." It's just one of those songs that whenever you hear it, wherever you are, and whatever you're doing, you want to sing it at the top of your lungs—at least, I do!
Of course, when I look back on my life back then, life seems pretty good. Sure, there was the usual teenage drama and what not, but there was never a day when I didn't think big and make plans that were so much bigger than I was. I felt invincible, like Rocky Balboa dancin' around the ring getting ready for a big title fight. All was good. Every day was a new day.
Then, . . .
Life entered the ring and the fight was on.
All of a sudden, the fight that I didn't anticipate came at me and caught me off-guard. It blindsided me with a blow that knocked the wind out of me. Wait just a minute . . . This wasn't the fight I signed up for. It wasn't in my "plan" and my "life by design plan for my life." But Life didn't care if I had signed up for it or not. It was merciless; and for five solid years, it delivered crushing blow after crushing blow. I was knocked down, but I wasn't knocked out, and so I stayed in the ring.
After the onslaught of combination punches that were hurled my way, another fighter entered the ring. I had never in my life been in the ring with Depression before—ever. Little did I know how heinous and cruel he could be. No, he didn't deliver the blows; he just held me down and crushed my spirit, so Life could continue delivering devastating punches at me. Depression smothered me, choked the spark of life right out of me, and robbed me of my ability to dream. Those days of dreaming were non-existent, like someone you met when you were four years old and now you're grown up. You might know them by name, but by name only. Only a remnant of their memory, if that, even exists.
The day I stopped dreaming was the day I started dying from the inside out. And, like most fickle fans, those who were once cheering my name and there to enjoy to good, were long gone and on to find their next champion. Yes, they said with their mouths that they would always be there for me, but they weren't. I felt so alone, so sad . . . so insignificant.
Only one stood in the ring with me—my coach. He couldn't defend me, because it wasn't his fight. All he could do was comfort me after each devastating blow and try as best as he could to stop the bleeding. He followed through with his vows, "In sickness and in health . . ." Yet, as much as he tried, I still felt so alone.
Of course, I'm not counting Life and Depression. They were my opponents. They weren't for me; they were against me. But believe me, they stuck by me closer than a brother and made more noise than anyone else could. Any "light at the end of the tunnel" was just the freight train that was barreling straight towards me.
Finally, after a long and brutal five-year fight, something happened. Something, in me, changed. An incident happened in our family that gave me the ability to thrust Depression off of me. It gave me the ability to get my power back and got me on my feet again. I was still broken and bruised, and it would take a while for me to become a real contender again. Never in my wildest imaginations would I have ever thought an incident like that would be the driving force to make me get up and start throwing punches again, but it did.
As I got stronger, Depression quit the fight. He knew he had lost. That left me with only Life to deal with—and I could handle Life with my coach in my corner. Depression was such a sneaky opponent. He didn’t play fair. Neither did he come straight at me with a punch I could defend. He came against me by crushing my vital areas: my boys and my hopes and dreams and life plans. By knocking them down day after day, he thought he had finally won because they couldn't get back up again. But now, they were getting stronger and stronger by the day. Dreams came back into my line of view and as I grew stronger, I focused in on them more and more. It wasn't overnight, but it was all-consuming.
Today, the bruises are gone, but the scars are still there. A gentle reminder that what was meant to take me out of the ring—DIDN'T! I am stronger than I ever was before . . . and wiser. My dreams—they're bigger than they ever have been before. That's right! I'm in this fight to WIN! Never again will I EVER stop dreaming! I’m a contender!
(The whole story is found in my new upcoming book release, A Passion to Live For.)
When we were on our flight home coming back from our month-long, European tour, I asked my husband a question. The question was this: "Honey, am I a good travel companion? Did you enjoy this trip with me?" I asked him specifically about this trip, because even though we travel all the time, our trips are usually four to five day jaunts, not ones that last a month. He told me that I was a great travel companion and that he loved spending all this time with me. Well, that was nothing he hasn't said before. I wanted to know why he thought that.
His answer was one of the biggest compliments, in my eyes anyways, that he could have given me. He said, "Baby, you never complained about anything, even though I know there were some things that were not what you were used to. I love that you are flexible and easily adjust to situations, places, and things."
When he said that, it made me feel so good to know that he saw that about me. I think it would be really easy to get snooty about things if they didn't go your way, but really? What fun is that for anybody? The truth is, I'm living my dream. I'm traveling around the world speaking into people's lives and, hopefully, making an impact on those around me. I get to meet some of the greatest people and have fun communicating with them (mostly through charades...lol). And, as an added benefit, I get to see some great things and take some beautiful pictures, which is something I absolutely love doing. Most importantly, I get to do all that with the love of my life. What's there to complain about? Nothing, in my eyes.
I know that because I have chosen the path I have in traveling to different places in the world, that means I am going to have to be flexible, courteous at all times, and learn to appreciate the differences between different cultures and mine. It means I need to be kind to all people, respect their different cultures, lifestyles, and ways of life; always being considerate and careful not to offend their traditions. It means never taking advantage of another's hospitality and goodwill. It means trying the best I can to find good in every situation, every place, and in all things. It's always a nice surprise to have people respond to you kindly when they realize you're not just another "spoiled American."
My husband and I are on a ministry tour to Europe. During this tour, we were able to spend a few days in Paris with some family members. We have been planning this trip for some time now. This past Christmas, my brother-in-law gave us this great book by Rick Steves describing in great detail all the travel must-sees, great tips, and important information to know while you're in Paris. Unfortunately, we were so busy working, getting ready to leave on this trip, that we did not make the time to read it. Our bad.
I had, however, already heard of the Love Lock Bridge there in Paris. It's famous because couples from all over the world go there and put a lock on the bridge, lock it, and then make a wish. After they make a wish, they throw the key into the water.
The book--we were supposed to read--gave websites where you could actually order personalized, engraved locks. We didn't know to do that--because we didn't read the book. But, my plan was just to buy a lock and key at Home Depot. BUT...., again, because we were so busy, time got away from us; and before we knew it, we were on the way to the airport with no lock and key.
After we finished our ministry time in Germany, we rented a car and drove from Bonn, Germany to Antwerpen, Belgium. While traveling there, we made an emergency bathroom stop (for me) at a place off the side of the highway. It JUST SO HAPPENED to be a Home Depot-type store! Before leaving, I told my husband, "We should just get our lock here! What are the chances of us just running into a Home Depot or Lowes in Germany?!" to which he responded, "Naw, we'll just get one when we get there."
When we got to Paris, we tried to look for a lock, but couldn't find one--anywhere--in such a short time. The second night we were there, we were all going to go to the Love Lock Bridge and put our locks on the bridge. Everyone else had read the book and knew to order their personalized, engraved locks--and they looked lovely and so romantic! I became irritated that we were in Paris and were without a special lock. But, I was determined to make the best out of a bad situation, so I thought of a backup plan. I had a Sharpie marker in my bag and thought I would take it and just write our initials somewhere there on the bridge.
Thankfully, our nephew said, "Hey, I have an extra lock you can have if you want it." I was thrilled at least to have one, but when he brought it to us it was a combination lock instead of a lock with a key. You know, like the ones you would put on a gym or school locker. Now, I wasn't only mad, but I was a little embarrassed because everyone else's was incredible and well...
But, again, I knew I had to make the best out of a bad situation and use it. So, instead of our name being beautifully engraved on it, ours was written with a Sharpie marker--yes, that same one in my bag. And, instead of us having a key to throw into the river, I spontaneously decided to just throw the Sharpie marker over the bridge. :) It wasn't glamorous, but we made it work! :)
I can't tell you how many couples we know who have had huge engagement parties, Cinderella-type weddings, and dream-like honeymoons whose marriages ended up in divorce a few years later. It's was great to find out on this trip that the couple we went there with, who took us all there to celebrate their anniversary, had a normal church wedding and then went to a small town a few hours away to spend the night at a hotel for their honeymoon--and there we were with them and their three grown children and spouses, celebrating 40 years of marriage together.
You know, it's not the glamorous $35,000 wedding you have or the luxurious fairy-tale honeymoon you have that makes a marriage last; it's having a love that's real, learning to be flexible, and making the best out of bad situations. Simply, it's about just making it work!
I love life. I love people. I love helping people love life.