Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rejected and Alone

Christmas can be a very difficult time for those who are alone or have lost someone they love. Feelings of abandonment, rejection and depression can easily seep in. A dear, divorced friend of mine whose children are now grown and distant, was sharing with me how this time of year can be exceptionally lonely. My heart goes out to all in this situation. I can't help but think of Jesus. "He was despised and rejected, a man of many sorrows and familiar with suffering" (Isaiah 53:3). Those closest to him walked away and betrayed him in his darkest hour.

What about you? Are you like my friend, feeling all alone this holiday season? If so, take comfort in knowing that Jesus can relate! I say, if you are feeling alone, look up and look out. Look up to Christ, and tell him what you're feeling. Don't worry, you're not complaining: you're just being honest with a God who loves you. How about playing some soft worship music to set the atmosphere of your home? Pandora has a huge selection.

Next, look out. Who can you bless this holiday season? Remember, not all blessings involve money. Who do you know that is alone? What about someone in a nursing home? We know they are often rejected and left alone day after day. How about that neighbor you barely know? I've learned that in order to get what you want, you've got to give what you've got. If you need love, give some. If you need friendship, be a friend. If you need peace, make some. As you begin to "look out," watch your own feelings of loneliness evaporate.

As we begin to take the focus off of our own need, and look after the needs of others, God is able to do his "magic" and fill our lives and hearts with love, peace and joy.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and especially those who feel rejected and alone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Today was my mother's younger sister's funeral. All who knew my Aunt Marilyn loved her. I seriously doubt she had one enemy. Even her ex-husband's family and the family of her ex-daughter-in-law came to not only show their support, but to openly weep with those of us who wept. Sadly, sometimes it's only in death that the true life of someone really shines forth.

As I continue to reflect on the events of today, I realize that it is not in the lofty words we speak, the new ventures that come our way or even the pursuit of our own happiness that makes living life worthwhile. It's in the simple hug of a loved one we haven't seen in years, the easy banter between childhood friends reminiscing over memories of long ago and the simplistic knowing that we are right on target in where we should be in our lives.

Someone once said that "happiness is the highest human emotion." I'd like to offer another take. I say, "Living life fulfilled (whole and complete with a sense of joy and purpose--my definition) surpasses any human emotion! For happiness is a temporary fix induced by chance. Fulfillment is on a whole other level. It is a sense of wholeness in which happiness cannot compare

I suppose that's the beauty in the death of a believer. There is true fulfillment knowing you have touched the lives of others in a deep, profound way that will far outlive you.

So it's now up to you. What are you grappling after? pining over? regretting? Let today be a new day full of new dreams . . . not dreams of materialistic possessions or notoriety, but in finding your "sweet spot"--the place where you become fulfilled.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let There Be Light!

It's something we all take for granted
Something we rarely even think about
It's something we barely even notice
Until we have to go without

Without it, your food will spoil
Your normal tasks become a toil
In darkness you grasp at things
You're hopeless without it's means

I could go on and on, but this is just a little "freestyle" intro to the surprise that awaited me when my family and I returned from my daughter's softball game this evening. Our house was nearly dark; all the lights were out. "What happened?" I exclaimed. "I know I paid that bill!" I called my neighbor who lives a few doors down, and interestingly, she still had power. I peered out of my window and noticed the street lights were still on, and the neighborhood pretty much looked undisturbed. WITW? Am I the only one who was affected by this sudden outage? I wondered.

After an immediate call to the power company, I settled in the family room with my children and some scented, lit candles, a flashlight and said a prayer. Geesh, Lord, really? I have an assignment that is due tonight, and I really need my computer. Tonight of all nights, why did the power have to go out? I thought to myself.

Not long after, the power company pulled onto my street with two oversized trucks and several workers. "They're here, they're here!" my four-year old cheered. He doesn't know much about lights and electricity or their functions, but he knew these guys looked like they could fix our problem. This got me to thinking about how many things we take for granted. I mean, who really appreciates having electricity until you don't have it? You go into the bedroom, flip the light on, never thinking to yourself, "What if this light doesn't come on." We need electricity. I mean, really, really need it. Thank God for the utility workers!

This brings me to my final thought (sorry, nothing profound this time!). How often do we take the time to appreciate the men and women who work tirelessly (in the middle of the night even) to ensure our comforts? As we watched out of a bedroom window the men working quickly and carefully, I thought of how they risk their lives every day so we can have light. My heart was tenderized to their sacrifice. So after they finished working (hey, I needed to make sure they did the job right!), I ran outside and yelled, "Thank you, thank you!" over the loud humdrum of their trucks.

A simple "You're welcome" was all they said. But I knew in my heart, they walked a little taller tonight knowing they had restored light to a family in need. So the next time you flip a switch, open a nice cold can of soda or take a hot shower, how about saying a little prayer of thanks for all the little things we take for granted. Let there be light! And there was light.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Away From the Noise

My, my, it's been a long time since I've blogged! My busy life and hectic schedule have been the main culprits, but there is also something else. I have allowed myself to be caught up in the busyness of life, straining for bits and pieces of quietness from the noise. I am a writer who needs total peace and quiet in order to let the creative juices flow from my head and through my fingers to the keys on my computer. With four kids and a dog, you can see how this can be somewhat impossible.

In my morning time with God today, however, I was reminded that quietness is not only good for my own personal writing time, but quietness is absolutely essential if we are to truly connect with God's Spirit and hear from Him. He speaks in a "still, small voice" (I Kings 19:12).

"When you approach me in stillness and trust, you are strengthened. You need a buffer zone of silence around you in order to focus on things that are unseen," writes Sarah Young of Jesus Calling. How true is that! In this life, we are constantly bombarded by noise! TV, radio, unwanted advertisements online, hollering children, airplanes flying overhead, phone calls, you name it. We have become so accustomed to the noise, that the stillness can be deafening, uncomfortable and irritable.

How clever the enemy is! If he can keep us distracted by the noise (and yes, even church can be a very noisy place), he can keep us from hearing the still, small voice of our Father. How about every morning, before we begin our day and before we lay our requests on God, we begin with a few minutes of simple silence. Concentrate on trying to hear His voice for He speaks to those who have ears to hear.

God bless you! I'm excited to hear what God has shared with you in your own quiet time.
Dana Che

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Corey's Ram in the Bush

How did I find myself driving 20 minutes out of my way back to the baseball field at 10:00 pm after my oldest son's baseball game? With four sleepy children in the car at that. Simple. My four year-old had left his toy truck on the field and was on the brink of a meltdown if I didn't drive back to get it. "Please, Mommy, please. I need it,"  his pitiful eyes watered as he begged.

So, imagine my dismay as I drove my four-wheel-drive through the sand on the baseball field looking for the green toy truck. The Coach had forgotten to turn out the field lights, so at least I had some light. As any good mother would do, I send my eleven year-old out for the search and recovery operation. To his utter annoyance, he looked and looked, near the trees and on the playground, on the field and in the grass, but the toy truck was nowhere to be found.

"I can't find it," he said shrugging his shoulders as he slumped back into his seat.

At this point, I was through. "Corey," I said, trying to keep my anger at bay. "It's late, Mommy's tired. Where was the last place you had your truck?"

"I don't know," his fat innocent face shone. "Maybe someone took it."

All sorts of thoughts went through my mind at that moment. None of them appropriate for a four year-old boy in mourning over the loss of one of his favorite toys. As I drove much too quickly away from the field, my nine-year old cries, "There it is! I see it! Look over there in that tree."

And sure enough, there it was indeed. The little green truck was safely tucked away in the branches of a tree in the parking lot. WITW? Immediately, the Old Testament story of Abraham lifting his eyes to the ram in the bush, realizing he would not have to sacrifice his beloved Isaac came to mind. God had provided the ram BEFORE Abraham ever saw it. That truck was in the tree the whole time! It just took a nine year-old with eyes to see the provision of the Lord.

I just love God. He's just that good. He cares about the little, intricate details of our lives--right down to a toy for a little boy. What are you searching for today? May I encourage you to open your eyes and look for the provision the Father has already provided for you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stop, Look and Listen

I try to write out of my own personal experiences with the Lord. Just today, as I curled up on my bed with my laptop and devotional book in hand, I was ready. Ready to hear from God. Soaking music was playing softly in the background and I was in position . . . postured for Him to speak.

After waiting a few minutes, I didn't hear anything. C'mon, Jesus, speak. I said to myself. I turned up the volume on my computer thinking I would usher His presence in a little quicker if my music were louder. Still nothing. I peeked out of one eye at the clock on the bottom of the screen. Six or seven minutes and two whole songs had gone by, yet I didn't hear the familiar calming voice in my spirit. C'mon, Lord. I know you've got something to say, I prayed.

And what I heard was: Wait. Wait? I thought. I am waiting. I've been waiting. Now come on. Is this as comical to you as it is to me now? Ahhhh . . . how often do we rush into the presence of God expecting him to dish out a word like our local barista dishes out our favorite latte on demand?

We struggle (at least I know I do!) with stopping from the ordinary, looking into the face of Christ and listening to what he has to say. Prayer isn't just us talking all the time. It's really a conversation. God speaks, we listen. We speak, He listens. Even still, it's difficult to cultivate a quiet spirit.

Listen. Just listen. The Father has so much to say. Are we listening? Not to our pastor's words, not to the television preacher and not even to the lyrics of a worship song, but to the still, small voice that is ever speaking to our souls. Can you hear Him? God is always talking, but we talk over Him so much that we fail to hear him. Isn't His voice enough for you?

You've gotten my attention, Lord. Today, I choose to stop, look and listen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Will Come

Driving in the rain to my son's preschool this morning, I was again reminded that Spring is here.  I can hardly believe it.  It seems like only yesterday when my husband and I were braving below freezing temps to pick out the perfect Christmas tree.

This past winter was unusually harsh in Virginia Beach, where I live. Temps often dipped in the low twenties and snow fell on several different occasions.  "I'm not used to this weather!" I often moaned. You see, I grew up here and can count on one hand the times we have had snow in my lifetime. I would open my closet door and long for the days when I could wear my strapless tank tops and flip flops again. 

Now, all of the sudden, it seems, Spring has come. A few days ago, we were in the mid-eighties!  I was lovin' it! Even with today's rain, temps hovered near 60.  It's true, I said to myself.  Spring has come just like I knew it would. 

That got me thinking.  How often when we are in the midst of a crisis, an unforeseen occurrence or tragedy do we think, "I'm never going to recover from this" or "Will this ever end?"  But, no matter how bleak your circumstances, the good news is Spring Will Come!  It has to.  Just like God has ordained the astronomical seasons, so He has ordained the seasons of your life. I love how Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." (NLT) Hear that?  Everything has its appointed time or season. 

I had been going through a difficult season in one of my relationships.  No matter how hard I prayed or tried, nothing seemed to work.  As a matter of fact, things only seemed to get worse. When I read Ecclesiastes 3:1, however, I was at peace.  I knew that God was able to bring an end to that season of strife and misunderstanding.  And He did.  Now, that relationship has been restored.  It's like it's raining love now!

All in God's time.  Remember, Spring Will Come.  Just wait for it.  I know that's the hard part but no matter how much we push or pull, no matter whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow, it is destined that the seasons do change  . . . in God's perfect timing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's Like Being Born Again

Feels Like I'm Born Again

Ok, I have a confession. I don't watch the news. Too many fear-inducing stories. Instead I will scan Yahoo News from time to time. Today, I stumbled upon a news article on about a girl named Carlina White who was abducted from a New York hospital in 1987. The story ends on a positive note with Carlina solving her own kidnapping and being reunited with her birth parents.

The thing that struck me about this story wasn't only the fact that this girl had been abducted from right underneath her parent's noses (that could've been my child!) but what she said at the reunion with her biological family: "I'm so happy. At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand new. It's like being born again," Carlina White told The Associated Press.

I began thinking of the Christian experience. Isn't that just like being born again into God's family? At first, when you realize your sins have been forgiven, you're as high as a kite, happy indeed. Then, you begin feeling "funny," or nervous. "Am I really okay with God now? Did he really forgive me?" "What are my friends and family gonna think about this?" Doubt may creep in. Memories of your past may flash through your mind. Everything is brand new... and can be somewhat scary. But, you feel like a different person. You don't look at people or situations the same. You've been made new and it's a great feeling!

Jason Gray sums it up so well in his song, "I Am New."

If you have been born again, enjoy the experience. If you are "pre-born-again," (not yet a Christian) jump in, the water's great!

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Setback or Setup? Submitting to God's Plan for Your Life

When I was sixteen and a senior in high school, I had my whole life planned out. I KNEW that I would graduate high school 2 days after my 17th birthday. I KNEW I would graduate college just before my 21st birthday. I KNEW I would go on to become a child psychologist, though I could barely stomach the idea of going to school for another four years after undergrad. And I KNEW I would be married by 27 to a loving husband and have 4 kids...3 boys and a girl. I KNEW all this because I had my whole life planned out.

Okay, maybe I'd be married by 28, what's a year here or there? I laugh now at my presumptuous and strict timeline. Who was driving my life anyway? Well, if you had asked me, of course I would have said God was, but in reality, I was. I was making my own seemingly good choices and asking God to bless them...after the fact. Boy, did that get me into trouble.

Not only did I not graduate college at 20, but I gave up my aspirations to become a child psychologist after my first semester. I just couldn't do 8 years of school! I got married at 18 with a 6 week old baby to boot. I worked for a large national insurance company for a while before eventually finding fulfillment at a small non-profit. Three additional kids later (yes, I did actually have 3 boys and a girl!), I find myself pursuing my true love...writing.

Writing was something I always dreamt I would do...later. Perhaps after I had worked as a psychologist for a few years, I thought maybe I'd write a textbook or something. Or, maybe after I had raised my children, I would write a novel.

But God had another plan. Romans 8:28 reminds, "All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes."

Sometimes our setbacks can be blessings in disguise, setups even. You see, after recommitting my life to Christ in my early twenties and giving God full control, I began to see Him working his plan in my life in the most unexpected ways. God has truly blown my mind with the way he works things out for my good. I have been given vocational opportunities that I was way unqualified for, strategic connections I could have never made on my own and a fulfilling life's purpose.

I couldn't have planned my life better if I had tried! So, maybe instead of beating yourself up at your setbacks, LOOK UP! God just might be setting you up to experience your life's greatest mission.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year...New You

Okay, I know I'm a little late but Happy New Year and welcome to a new you! Some scorn New Year's resolutions believing them to be a set up for failure. Others are just too pessimistic to believe for change. Still, others prefer to call them "goals." Whichever terminology you use, I am always in favor of folks taking any opportunity to improve themselves, self included.

Every New Year is a time for us to reflect upon last year's mistakes and successes. Someone once said, "If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't trying." I concur. Think about the goals you made for 2010. Were you successful in completing them? I used to beat myself up about not finishing what I had started. It's one of my own pet peves. Then, I had an ephiphany: whatever progress I made was indeed progress! I hadn't "failed" at completing something, I had succeeded in beginning it in the first place.

So many times it's easy for us to be down on ourselves, always striving, without taking a look at what we actually have accomplished. So what if you didn't lose all 20 pounds you set out to lose. What did you do? You lost 5? Great! You joined a gym? Fantastic. Keep up the good work. The Bible says, "Steady plodding brings prosperity," Proverbs 21 :5a TLB. Little by little, day by day, moment by moment and before you know it, those dreams and goals have materialized in their entirety. Sure, there may be times when we need to refocus, recharge or recommit ourselves, but keep the long term goal in mind. You will make it if you continue to try.

Allow 2011 to introduce you to an all new you. Let this be your year to see those resolutions flourish.

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