Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Dad I Never Had

The Dad I Never Had
Father's Day is just around the bend and sadly, I don't celebrate with my natural father. My dad died 12 years ago. But in all honesty, I never spent one Father's Day with him even while he was living. He and my mom divorced before I began preschool, so I don't really have any memories of him, other than the tassels from his dress shoes (I guess I would crawl around on the floor and notice the tassels on his shoes---a memory I still have to this day). As a young girl, I would imagine what life would be like with the dad I never had.

When I was 10, I actually led my dad to the Lord by writing him a letter pleading with him to get his life right with God. After he died, my grandmother gave me a box of some of his belongings, and all those years later that letter was still there! By God's grace, we were able to reconnect shortly before he died. I had long forgiven him for not being a part of my life, and I was right there with him as he breathed his last breath. I had made peace with the dad I never had.

Growing up without a dad left a tremendous hole in my life. I would look at my friends' dads for guidance, protection and validation. Some of these men, like David Martin and Karol Warren will never know the impact they had on my life as I watched them love their wives and children . . . and me! I may not have had a relationship with my own dad, but God allowed these "filler fathers" to show me how a man should behave.  These men gave me the blueprint as to what a loving Father was.

Fast forward and now I am married with children of my own. God continues to show me more of who He is through how I parent my own kids. No, I am not a father, God knows that :-), but I am a parent. And God always meets us where we are. He knew I couldn't really relate to him as "Father," but I most certainly can as "Parent."

Just today, I had to spank one of my kids---something I absolutely hate to do! You should see me. I'm probably more anxious than the child! Why won't this kid just listen and obey?! I scream aloud. I pour out mercy and give warnings, yet they still choose to disobey. In that moment, I understand the Father heart of God more clearly than ever. How many times does He warn us, redirect us and give us mercy and we still disobey? How this must grieve Him!

On the flip side, I am planning a wonderful surprise for my kiddos tomorrow. I'm so excited! I've purchased the tickets and they have no idea! I think of my Heavenly Father. How many times does He have a wonderful, glorious plan in store for us, yet we whine and complain because we can't see how our future looks. Instead of stepping out in faith, we shrink back in fear, not realizing He's already "purchased the tickets" for our hope and future (Jeremiah 29:11)! I see Father God all giddy and excited because He knows our future, and it is mar-va-lous dahlin'! Won't you trust Him?

See, for me, Jehovah, Yahweh is to me the dad I never had. And what a Wonderful Dad/Father/Papa He is!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Keep Moving Forward

Life is a Journey. Keep Moving Forward.
You know, no matter what stage in the journey of life you're in, one thing remains: you must keep moving forward. Life is a journey filled with twists, turns, setbacks, celebrations, obstacles, problems, triumphs, pain, risks . . . the list could go on. At the beginning of any obstacle, you are faced with a decision: fear or courage. Whichever you choose determines how long you stay at that "station" in life.

Say for example, you lose your job. That's a huge obstacle to most people! You might wonder, What am I going to do? How will I make ends meet? How did this happen to me?! You are at the beginning, the genesis of your crisis. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "It's not what you go through, but how you go through." The unexpected happens. That's life. You can't change it. You can't hide from trouble. Trouble will find you! So, how are you going to respond?

That decision is so key and crucial as to how long you will face that challenge. In this situation, some people pout, have a pity party and collect their unemployment check with no plans on getting back on top. Others become angry, blame their boss, blame the economy, the world, whatever. Then, there's the Warrior. This person says, "You know, I didn't ask for this, but there is a reason this happened to me. What can I learn from this?" This is hard. I ask myself this question EVERY DAY! "What can I learn from this?" Having that attitude sets you up for growth, blessing and influence. Let's face it, no one wants to hear your pity party! Now, before you accuse me of being harsh and "compassion-less," believe me, I've had my fair share of pity parties! Some of my parties had a room full of people and during others I was all alone. Cry if need to, but at the end of your cryfest, you need a plan. You must keep moving forward!

Many people get stuck in life because they never mastered the art of moving forward. They get swallowed up by pain and tragedy that they forget that life is a journey. Get your feet out of the mud, dust those bad boys off, make a plan of action and keep it moving . . . forward! Then, and only then will your test become a testimony.

I've got a new best friend, and her name is KIM. (Keep It Moving)! Don't quit. Because just around the bend of that obstacle is a celebration waiting for you to attend!

Love and Blessings, and I'll see you at the top!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Chinese Bamboo Tree

Chinese bamboo tree over 90 ft
What does writing, starting a business and waiting on provision have to do with a Chinese bamboo tree? E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! Chinese bamboo is quite a hot commodity here in the US. We use Chinese bamboo for beautiful hardwood floors, place mats, cutting boards, you name it. But it's not their versatility I want to write about. It's the growing process of the Chinese bamboo tree.

You would expect great results from a little seed that has been watered and fertilized, watered and fertilized, watered and fertilized for a year. But to the contrary, nothing happens! The second year you water and fertilize, and nothing happens. The third year you water and fertilize, and still nothing happens. If you haven't given up yet, you're most definitely discouraged!

The fifth year you continue to water and fertilize the seed and then---suddenly it seems---the Chinese bamboo tree sprouts and grows to over NINETY FEET IN SIX WEEKS (just one growing season)!

All the hard work and dedication you put into its growth didn't go unnoticed. While you were watering and worrying, life was taking shape UNDERGROUND! You couldn't see it, but life was certainly happening. A favorite scripture comes to mind when I think of this: "We don't look for things that can be seen but for things that can't be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can't be seen last forever" (2 Corinthians 4:18, GOD'S WORD Translation)

Personally, I have begun a new business that is taking time to grow. I'm also continuing to look for writing and speaking opportunities . . . another growth process. Even myself. I am a growth process! I'm not who I was last year and not who I'll be next year.

My Facebook status for today was, "It can't grow if you won't sow!" Many of us haven't sown any seed because we are afraid it won't grow. I used to be like this. Instead of planting my seed, I would hold on to it (which is why it took me years to ever write my first book!) Of course it can't grow if you won't even exercise the small amount of faith to sow it. 

So the next time you contemplate whether or not to sow a seed, think of the story of the Chinese bamboo tree. Success doesn't happen overnight. Rome wasn't built in a day! Sucess takes time.  But remember, "It won't grow if you won't sow!"

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Help, I'm Drowning!"

"I'm Drowning!"
Yesterday I took the kids to the pool. The older two got in the water with no problem, even though they can't swim and even the baby splashed about happily. But my five year-old . . . he wasn't having it! He stood on the edge of the pool watching everyone else have fun. As I tried to coax him in, he backed away---the closer I got to him, the more he backed away until he full-out ran to the safety of the lounge chairs nearby.

A little while later, he ventured to the edge of the pool again. "I'm gonna get in, Mommy. I can do it myself," he said hanging on to the railing for dear life.

"Corey, the water is only two feet deep. Come on in," I tried to reassure him.

"No! I'm gonna drown, I'm gonna drown!" he shrieked.

"Corey, do you think Mommy would let you drown?" I asked him, bewildered at why he was acting like this.


I was shocked. My kid actually thought I would let him drown. What kind of parent did I think I was?!

Lesson #1
As a good Father, God beckons us to "swim in the deep with Him." Much like Corey, we, for some reason, think that He is going to let us drown.

Lesson #2
We see everyone else enjoying life, making their dreams come true and we smile and think, "Good for them," but we don't have the courage ourselves to get in the water.

Lesson #3
We run to what's familiar (in Corey's case, the lounge chairs) or "safe," because we perceive the water as dangerous.

Little did Corey realize that even if he stood up in the middle of the part of the pool where we were, the water would have only come up to his waist. He was never in danger of drowning! God spoke to me profoundly through this little experience. It's all about our PERSPECTIVE! What one kid perceived as fun and adventurous, the other perceived as scary and unsafe.

In my business, Organo Gold, or even in my writing business, Dana Che, there are many who look at what I'm doing from the sidelines and say, "Good job, Dana, so proud of you," but they are not able to see themselves doing the same thing! Or maybe they perceive network marketing as "scary" or "risky." After all, what if I don't do well? they ask themselves. I, however, have come to a realization that life is all about taking risks. NO ONE, hear me, NO ONE who is successful got there by playing it safe. What's the worse that can happen? For Corey, it would've been that he fell into the water and I would be right there to catch him. For you, if you trust a loving Father who is able to keep you from drowning, the worse is that you fall and He picks you up. Be not afraid of what might happen if you try, be more afraid of what will happen if you don't.

This is my passion---to see people set free from fear and limited living. Jump in! The water's great!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dissin' the President

President Barack Obama

My Facebook status today and the comments written by my friends made me want to expound on my thoughts about people dissin' the President. First, I am neither Democrat nor Republican. Both parties have ideals that I agree with and both have ideals that I disagree with. When President George W. Bush was in office, I would stand up for him as well when people made snide, rude and inappropriate comments about his decisions. We must learn to separate our own opinions from the character of another.

I've never met President Obama, but I think we would be friends if I did. :-) He seems very down to earth and I really believe he thinks what he's doing as a leader is the right or best thing for the country. Now, whether or not that's true is my OPINION.

I've seen comments posted on Facebook that make me want to "defriend" some people. Some are just plain nasty . . . like they have a personal vendetta against the man. But again, I saw the same thing with President Bush.

When we look at the issues of our day--- affordable health care for all, education benefits for all, equality for all and the protection of our religious freedoms---there are bound to be major disagreements. All I want to know is, can we disagree in a mature, responsible and cordial manner? Some issues, especially issues on morality are passionate for many. Personally, I take a bold stance against abortion. However, I have learned to disagree with others in a way that will highlight the truths in my words and not the anger behind my words.

The President of the United States gets paid far less than most celebrities, receives daily death threats, is ostracized by half the country and never can seem to do anything right. It's time we begin to support our leaders again. And for those who pray, PRAY! Pray for his health, his decision making, his convictions and his courage.

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14, NLT.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The "F" Word

The "F" word. It's such a bad word that many of us never want to admit we use it. We think it. We ponder it, but we dare not say it. We dare not admit that we struggle with it. We call it other things . . . introvert, cautious, careful, or my all time favorite, "practical." But really, we need to call it what it is. F-E-A-R.

Fear destroys our destiny and keeps us stuck in today with no hope for tomorrow. I will be honest to say that fear has controlled my life for quite some time. If you were a friend of mine in the late 90's and dropped me off at home when the house was vacant, you knew your role: you had to get out of your car and come "check the house" with me. We would look under beds, in closets, in the refrigerator (what?!) . . . all so that we could pounce on that burglar before he pounced on me! I had convinced myself that there was always someone lurking in the shadows waiting to attack. I had 9-1-1 on speed dial and would call them whenever I heard a scary noise. No lie. At one point, after I got married and moved out on my own, the police department threatened to fine me if I called them again with one more false alarm! So, I stopped calling them, but nonetheless, I was still fearful.

We lived in a safe neighborhood and no one else's house had been broken into, but that didn't matter. It's only a matter of time, I thought, Eventually, someone is going to break in here. That's because fear has been described as "False Evidence Appearing Real." It took a lot of praying, reading Psalm 91 and calls to my best friend at midnight (if my husband wasn't home) to overcome that fear of my home being burglarized.

But, the "F" word didn't leave me. It simply attached itself to another situation and I became fearful of other things. The Bible teaches that fear is a spirit (2 Timothy 1:7) that does not come from God. It is sent by the enemy to torment, depress and stifle you. It will choke the very life out of you if you allow it. 

Now that I am a businesswoman, I still face fear. Fear of talking to others, fear of rejection, fear of not meeting my goals, fear of looking stupid. What about you? What are you afraid of?

I am learning that no matter what fear you face, the antidote is ACTION! Take massive action toward the very thing you're afraid of, and you will knock that fear giant right on its tail! I'm all in today!! How about you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Working While Resting?

So, yesterday's post was all about allowing the Lord to build our "house"---our hopes, our dreams and our plans for the future. We all know either from firsthand experience or watching a TV show like, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, that constructing a home takes T-I-M-E. Even on Extreme Makeover, with nearly a hundred construction workers, helpers, designers and the like, the process of constructing something from nothing takes time. Ponder this acrostic that I made up:  
 T hings
    I mprove 
                                                   M ost
                                                         E ventually
 See, no matter what you may be waiting for. Things improve most eventually! Ever heard of "bad grammar, good gospel?" Case in point. :-) Every thing that is of value takes TIME to grow. Someone told me a very encouraging story last night about the Chinese bamboo tree. I learned that it takes this tree on average 5 years to sprout! Think of the planter who waters and nurtures this plant for 5 years without ever seeing any results! But by faith, he continues to water and nurture it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Then in the fifth year, something amazing happens. That Chinese bamboo tree explodes out of the ground and grows up to 98 feet tall in ONE GROWING SEASON (4-5 months)!! That's huge . . . literally! Just think if that farmer said, "You know, I don't see anything happening, I may as well cut down this tree and choose another plant." It takes time to see results! 

So, what to do in the waiting? Well, there are two ways in which we can wait: passively or actively. The Bible is clear that "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:17). Yet works without faith is insanity! We need both. I love the book, What to Expect When You're Expecting (a must-have for soon-to-be mamas and daddies). I just love the title. Expectation is the exact posture we need to have while waiting for the promise. In our expectation, we rest, but we also work. Huh? Is it really possible to work while resting? You bet it is. 

Right now, I am in a season of my life where I am believing God for BIG things. But, I'm not sitting around twiddling my thumbs hoping success will just fall on me! I'm planning my work and working my plan, and trusting God the whole way through to accomplish His plan in Him timing and in His way. That, friends, is active rest. I am not anxious, nor am I desperate. I know that in T-I-M-E, my answer will come and it will be a big, loud YES! 

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" (Proverbs 6:6). Notice the difference between the wise ant and the foolish sluggard. Being lazy, lethargic and not on purpose leads to folly, destruction and lost hope. The ants are busy accomplishing their task FOR A SEASON and then they rest all winter. You can't rest if you haven't worked! So, in whatever season of life this finds you, please allow me to encourage you to actively rest in God. Pray over your plans daily, being cognizant  of God's Master plan, then work your plan. And after you've done all you can (be that praying, worshiping, putting a plan of action together, making a phone call, etc.), REST!! God's got this. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philipians 4:6-7) 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Unless the Lord Builds A House

I used to struggle with one word more than any other word in the English language: rest. See, by nature, I am a "go-getter," a "doer" who like to make things happen. Last year, my husband was on military orders for a year and a half which caused him to be away from our family 5 days a week. During that time, I homeschooled 3 of my kids, went to school full-time, led a ministry of over 70 women at my church, finished writing my first book and let's see what else . . . chauffeured my very active children all around town to various sporting events and practices, volunteered at church and launched a business.

Whew! Even writing about it makes me nauseous now. How did I ever get all that accomplished?! Well, let me tell you, I am no Super Woman. I survived off of an average of 5 hours of sleep and, unfortunately, was very irritable most of the time (just ask my kids!). Living on the go-go-go is no way to live. Carrying the weight of the family on my shoulders caused me to be overwhelmed and out of fuel. I would run into the presence of God "real quick," get what I needed and rush back out. I wasn't resting, for sure.

As I look back over the last year and a half, I am so thankful for God's mercies that kept me sane! And I am so grateful now that He is teaching me how to rest in Him. Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the Lord builds a house, the workers labor in vain (their work is wasted)." If your foundation is shaky, the whole house is subject to collapse.

I've had to go through my schedule and "weed out" some good activities that were not contributing to the greater goal of my life. I've had to say "no" to things I've really wanted to say "yes" to. I've had to rearrange my schedule so that my God comes first, my family second and then everything else has to fall in line. I will not compromise my priorities to try to get ahead.

This all leads me to wonder, "Do we really trust God with our lives?" Think about it. If you are running to and fro, chasing dreams and trying to make things happen on your own, what does it all profit anyway? I am learning how to rest--how to give God my plans while filtering them through His master plan. Remember, "unless the Lord builds a house . . ."

So, friend, REST! And watch for my next post which will contrast passive rest versus active rest.

So long for now!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More of You

This song always makes me wanna cry as I picture the image of a loving Father hovering over the earth desperately seeking someone who will really love him through their lifestyle. "He wants it all today."

What idols are you willing to let go of today? Pride? Self-image? Fear? Rejection? Loneliness? Self-Dependence? Anger? Sex? Striving? I could go on and on. Today as I was worshiping, I literally bowed down and named the idol out loud that I was leaving at the feet of Jesus. They are horrible masters anyway!

All of me, Lord
You deserve my best
I don't need idols
To give me rest
I don't  want anything
But You
Come Lord, Jesus
I'm making room
Empty and humble I come
To receive the endless love of the Son

More of You, today!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are You Neglecting Yourself?

That is the question I had to answer yesterday. Sadly, my honest answer was "Yes." As a very busy wife and mother of four, a new business owner, writer, speaker, volunteer, friend . . . the list goes on, I spend large quantities of my day investing in others.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's what I've been created to do. I LOVE talking to a friend on the phone for an hour just to help her get a sense of peace. I LOVE pouring into the lives of the young moms I work with in my local MOPS group. I LOVE kissing my kids' cheeks and watching them play with wild abandon. I LOVE massaging my husband's back because he's been working all day, and I LOVE when a new story line or chapter presses me so that I have to run to my computer to type it out.

Giving is what we were created to do. Give love. Give joy. Give our time. Give, give, give. Unfortunately,  in this getting, we sometimes neglect ourselves. Humans are complex beings. We are made up of body, soul and spirit. I love reading people's posts on Facebook about how they're running miles and miles in the early hours of the morning, or having "gym time." I enjoy reading how they've discovered a new, inspiring website or book. But what I don't see a lot of is a well-balanced approach in taking care of all three parts of ourselves.

For years, all I focused on was the spiritual. I was at every church event and prayer meeting and yelled at my kids when they would "interrupt my devotions . . ." I didn't exercise, had no career goals and didn't have much time for my friends. Now, I see how out of balance I was!

Today, I am making a concentrated effort to begin and end each day with God, but also in between to make sure I'm taking care of my physical, emotional, and yes vocational sides as well. If you're a household manager (because I hate the term "stay-at-home mom"), don't just run around chasing kids all day; contend to take care of your entire self. You owe it to yourself, and you'll be much happier for it.

So as you go throughout your day today, I pray you will, with me, focus on being a more balanced, peaceful you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Keep Dreamin'

I dream just about every night. Some dreams are wild, crazy, unrealistic figments of my very active imagination that have me flying through outer space with sparkly wings eating a piece of banana cheesecake and squeezing my little son's cheeks with glee.

What? I know. I said "crazy . . . and active imagination."

But then there are other dreams that wake me up in a cold sweat, heart pounding, and I know . . . I've been in touch with destiny. Purpose has been born, and even if I don't always know the exact meaning of the dream, I know I'd better "wake up," be alert and pay attention . . . something's coming.

One of my favorite authors and speakers, Lisa Bevere, says, "God gives us visions (or dreams) to enlarge us." No one gets anything big by dreaming small!

Think back to when you were a child. What did you want to be? Do? Go? More importantly, WHO did you want to be? I'm not talking about singing to Mariah Carey in the mirror and wanting to be her. I'm asking you to close your eyes and think back to what type of person you wanted to be. Were you strong, courageous, funny, loving, nurturing? Did you have a small army of children nestled at your feet while you read them goodnight stories or were you taking the corporate world by storm? What did your husband look like? Act like? How did your wife treat you? One thing I'll bet---you were happy, weren't you?

So what has happened to us? When did we stop dreaming? Why did we allow the naysayers and the "Debbie Downers" (think SNL) to tell us who we would be or what we would become?  When did we believe the nonsense ourselves?

Today, I am asking God to reawaken the dreams in me. I believe He put them for a reason. And if I could look you in the eyes, I'd say the same to you, "Keep Dreamin.'" Because sometimes, dreams really do come true. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Thoughts on Whitney Houston

My heart sank as I read the text message a friend sent to me: "Did you hear the news about Whitney Houston?" I had a sick feeling in my stomach, and even before I grudgingly typed in "," I already knew---she was dead. You don't understand, as a kid, I was the hugest Whitney fan. I knew every song of hers and would often record myself in our old tape recorder singing along to her tunes. She was such a picture of class and dignity, stirring my emotions as her heavenly voice echoed in my bedroom. I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

Fast forward several years, and now I'm in my mid-20's. Whitney's life is spinning out of control as most media outlets report scenes of wild parties and heavy drug use. I can't believe it! What happened to the classy, elegant Whitney I had grown up listening to? Her infamous Diane Sawyer interview airs and I watch her declare, "Crack is whack!" proving media reports to be true. How could this be? I wondered. Why would a woman who has so much give it all up for  . . . drugs?

I, thankfully, have never experienced the horrors of battling drug addiction, so I cannot speak from experience. However, I have faced enormous emotional pain, so thick I thought it would swallow me whole. I do know what it's like to feel like your life is totally out of control, and no matter what you do, you'll never win. I know what it's like to cry so hard there are no tears left. I think I can relate to the pain Whitney must have felt in her short life.

 Which brings me to the point: Where do you turn when you have nothing left? When your heart is shattered and your life destroyed, when those you thought you could turn to turn out to betray you, when your hopes and dreams come crashing down, who can you go to? The difference between "Christians" and "those who know their God" (Daniel 11:32) is as different as Mother Teresa and Chelsea Handler. Many claim to be "Christians," but not many can truly say they KNOW God. I have learned in my own emotional struggles that God is so much more than just a religious figurehead or distant unknown. He is such a friend! I have learned to truly "cast all my cares on Him" and allowed Him to sustain me (Psalm 55:22).

Drugs, sex, money, power---none of it truly satisfies or brings the healing our hearts so desperately seek after. My prayer is that Whitney's life will serve to be a "life lesson" for those who struggle. There is a God who is waiting on you to cast your cares on Him and trust Him as he exchanges your pain for His peace, your shame for his grace, your life for his purpose. So, next time you need a "fix," will you try Him? I guarantee, you will not be disappointed.