Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sharing My Story at a Women's Ministry Event

Summer time. Many people get out of town to avoid the intense heat of Phoenix. But there are always some of us still around, looking forward to getting together with friends.

Last evening I was speaking at a women's ministry event at Discovery Pointe Church in Peoria, Arizona. I'd been invited by my good friend Helen. I was asked to share on the topic of "How to be Content Despite Challenging Circumstances". Since I've had much experience with that ...I agreed.

About 60 women gathered around tables decorated with the summer theme. Pizza, salad and bite sized individual desserts were served.  A hostess was assigned to each table as questions were posed for the group. This encouraged women to open up and share.

I love meeting new friends and seeing a few of my old (not age that is). I've known Helen and Anna May for years. And Heidi is the teacher I worked with for four years at my school. I was thrilled that she attended and even grabbed my camera to take a few photos.

I loved meeting Maria who is a fellow New Yorker. And then there was Roxanne who hosted our table. Susan, Marilyn and Debra were several other women who were so welcoming to me.

I shared my testimony. God is so good and so patient. How thankful I am that He never left me. He brought people into my life at just the right time. He gave me a dream that changed my life.  The secret that enables me to be content no matter what the circumstances is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 41:10:

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

I mentioned the book I've been working on for the last few years. Many of the women were interested and wrote down their emails so I could notify them when I finally completed it. Oh boy, now I really need to get going!!!!!

One of the sweetest surprises I received (besides the hugs and kind words) was a plastic bag filled with notes from many of the women. I didn't get to open it until this morning.

Here are just a few of the notes:

"I really enjoyed your testimonial. I was not planning to come tonight but I am really glad I did. You have inspired me to start reading my Bible in the morning before my day begins and fill my cup."

"Your story was inspirational. It gives me strength and encouragement to tell my own testimony."

"Thank you for reminding me to spend time with Jesus."

"Thank you Debbie for showing us how faithful our Heavenly Father is."

When I got home, Greg asked me what the women got out of my talk. Well, after reading the notes I'm so glad that I was able to point them to the only One who can provide true contentment no matter what our circumstances. And His name is JESUS.

Blessings and love,

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Whispers of Rest: A Book Review

 I was so excited when I received a copy of Bonnie Gray's latest book "Whispers of Rest".

"Whispers of Rest" is a 40 day devotional and is the second book written by Bonnie Gray. It is organized into six sections.

  1. Being the Beloved: Embrace your true identity
  2. Choosing as the Beloved: Reclaim your self-worth
  3. Dreaming as the Beloved: Reignite your passion
  4. Healing as the Beloved: Deepen intimacy with Jesus
  5. Daring as the Beloved: Being known in community
  6. Shining as the Beloved: Celebrate your calling 
Each day is an invitation to be still before God.
Each day is a reminder that you are God's Beloved.

Read. Reflect. Pray. This is the format for each day.

Read God's Story. This section includes Scripture verses. As you read each story, you are invited to hear God's whispers to you. Maybe there's a verse that seems to speak directly to you. Is God reminding you of the dreams He placed in your heart as a child? Have you become so caught up in your to-do list that you haven't taken time to nurture those dreams and instead stuffed them way back down? Do you need to resurrect those dreams?

Reflect on your story. Bonnie offers questions related to the focus of each chapter. An example is a chapter titled "Choose Joy". One of the questions posed was "What have you enjoyed getting lost in doing, that once gave you joy? Why did you stop?"

Pray and rest. Bonnie recommends taking time to pray using simple practices such as visual imagery, praying Scripture, kneeling and surrender.

Each day has a Beloved Challenge. Take a fruit break, sip a cup of tea, go for a walk, sing a worship song. These are a few of the challenges.

Each day ends with Soul Care Trail Notes. Bonnie includes ways to take care of your soul. She cites many studies about the benefits of hugging, aromatherapy, creating art, coloring and prayer walking.

I loved this book! It was just what I needed at this time in my life. During a very busy season, I took time each morning to read and rest. I almost felt like it was a mini-vacation despite being a preschool teacher at the end of the school year. I found myself becoming more aware of those simple moments throughout my day. Yes, I still had the required to-do list.  But I began to cherish the moments I still had with my precious little students before they moved on to the next grade level.

On my way to work, I pass an outdoor arena where riders exercise their horses early in the morning. I often think that one day I need to take the time to stop and watch. So one morning, I decided to put Bonnie's soul care trail notes into practice. I stopped and simply observed the graceful movements of the horses and riders as they galloped round and round. I loved it and it was a great start to my day.

I would highly recommend Whispers of Rest. If you find yourself so busy and long for some rest ...this book is for you. Even if you can't make major changes in your life, you can choose how you live in the moments each day.

Check out Bonnie's book website for Whispers of Rest where you can sign up for a book study video series and many free resources. 

** I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review. I have to admit that I've already purchased two more copies as gifts for my friends and I plan to buy more.

Blessings and love,

Monday, September 12, 2016

Treat Each Day as a Gift

Treat each day as a gift. I know this is the right way to live but I don't always live this way. I can easily become so consumed with everything I think I have to do.  Or I begin worrying about so many things. And many of those things I have no business worrying about.

As my mind becomes so cluttered, I miss out on the beauty all around me. There have been times when I'm driving to work so deep in thought I missed my exit off the freeway.

Lately I've been taking a different route, a more scenic one. I'm purposely trying to become more aware of my surroundings. The desert of Phoenix is actually quite beautiful.

I drive through the mountains and reach a point where I have a unique view of the valley below. I take notice of the clouds in the sky and the outline of mountain ranges in the distance.

I'm reminded of the Scripture from Matthew 6:34 (The Message).

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

I take a deep breath and say a prayer of thanksgiving to my Lord.

Thank you for the gift of today. Help me to not waste this day worrying about things and people I can't control. Help me to notice the child at school who needs a friend. Help me to be an encouragement to my co-workers. Help me to live a life of love since I know that Jesus loves me. Help me to treat this day as a gift.

How about you? Do you manage to get through your day attempting to accomplish all that's on your to-do list? Do you sometimes realize life is going by so fast that you're missing out on the beauty of the ordinary? Will you begin to think of each day as a gift?

Blessings and love,

Am I a kid or what?

Am I a kid or what?

I love this place...Carmel, CA

I love this place...Carmel, CA