Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What If You Give Up When You're Supposed to Keep Going?

The "What Ifs" of God-sized Dreams

My Circles of Faith Co-founder Kimberly and I have faced many challenges as we stepped out in faith, starting a website we felt called to…and thought we had a clear vision for.

We spent many months in the planning and seeking stages. We gathered and prayed, wrote and rewrote our mission and purpose statements, agonized over our logo and site design. Every visual, every word was intentional and prayed over.

Together Kimberly and I attended our first bloggers’ conference, gladly and maybe a little hesitantly handing out our new business cards with high hopes that by the time we launched our website, the groundwork was laid and success was certain.

We invested money, effort, hours, held a well-attended launch party with enthusiastic supportive attendees. We were full of anticipation and excitement as we forged ahead.

And then we launched... Continue Reading at God-Sized Dreams

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Grandma's Daily Bread

Grandma’s Daily Bread
I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

While St. Patrick’s Day 2012 is behind us, the whole month of March is Irish American Heritage Month. So if you haven’t had some Irish Soda Bread yet, try Grandma Daly’s Bread. Recipe below.

I baked my bread and prepared our traditional Corned Beef feast a few days after St. Pat’s this year. And I’ve continued to think about my beloved Grandma Daly.

I was struck by what really was Grandma’s Daily Bread. She feasted on God’s Good News every day. This was in fact her daily bread, this was her sustenance. And it provided her with plenty, though she had very little.

Grandma emigrated from Ireland when she was about 20 years old. She left part of her family behind on the farm as she ventured out on a ship, likely a rough and crowded voyage, to meet other family members living in Bayonne, New Jersey and New York City. There was an Irish Wake when she left, which meant that family and friends gathered to say goodbye, to mourn the leaving of the young girl, knowing they would probably never see her again. And they didn’t, most of them, including her mother. Grandma would never step foot on the soil of the Emerald Isle again.

Grandma had a hard life. She married and was only able to have one child, my father Charlie. Oh how she loved Dad! Grandma lost her husband when Dad was only 13. Grandpa had lost his job through the devastation of the Depression and never worked again. So Grandma’s financial state forced her to sell her home and move into a couple of rooms with my father in the back of a doctor’s office. Grandma was an Irish washerwoman, scrubbing homes for the wealthy. Eventually, when Dad was grown and on his own, she became a nanny for a doctor’s family. When she could no longer perform these duties, she moved in with us for seven sacred years.

I can see her now…She would sit in the sun porch in a big buffalo plaid cushioned chair, rosaries entwined in her gnarled hands, crippled with arthritis. Her glasses were thick and didn’t improve her failing sight much. She relied on a cane to walk, disabled from a shin bone broken in two places that never healed. She was in physical pain for many years.

There she would sit, day after day, listening to Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale on her little AM Transistor radio. She fed on testimonies of faith and words of encouragement that streamed from that little plastic box. She meditated on God and His goodness every day of her life. She had long lists of prayer requests, which she prayed through daily. Pretty much everyone who entered my home would want a few minutes with Grandma, to share a heartfelt prayer request, knowing she would pray. It was now her life’s work.

Though she had nothing of material value, she was one of the richest, most grateful people I’ve ever known. And we, her descendents, have received the treasure she passed on, more valuable than gold. We inherited the gift of Grandma’s faith, the legacy of being thankful in all things (or at least trying to be), the belief that in prayer there is divine power, and we learned through her example that there is no greater daily bread than the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

Thanks Grandma. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Grandma Daly’s Irish Soda Bread
4 Cups Flour ( I used 2 cups wheat and 2 cups white)
½ Cup Sugar
1 Stick Butter or Margarine
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
Raisins to your liking
Optional: 1 Tbsp. of Caraway Seeds
Mix above ingredients in one bowl.

1 Egg
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/3 Cup Buttermilk
Mix above 3 ingredients in separate bowl. Add 2 bowls of ingredients together. Knead. Place dough in a hand-shaped round in the middle of a greased cookie sheet. Bake 1 hour at 350. Serve piping hot from the oven. Butter and jam is unnecessary but delish!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Today I'm Thinking About My Fellow Mamas...

“Black Lives Matter”

I know this is obvious. Of course black lives matter. All life matters. But today I stood on a snowy cold corner in my multiracial town of Montclair, NJ, and held this sign.

Why? Because I felt called to take a stand for all my friends, particularly my friends who are raising black sons and who fear for their children’s livesnot because these young men have done anything wrong, but these mama-friends know their kids are at risk simply because of the color of their skin.

Just one stat from the NAACP…
African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.

This is so unlike me to join a rally. I don’t like controversy. I’m a peacemaker. I always have been. I don’t like trouble. “I’m a lover, not a fighter.” I’ll speak with you directlyand you’ll know what I believe. You’ll know that I believe all people are God’s people, dearly loved, created in His image. And I’ll pray, oh yes, I’ll pray a lot, I’ll pray with boldness, I’ll pray with faith, I’ll take a stand in prayer.

But, in my 56 years, I have never felt led to rally publicly for anything. (Maybe I should’ve by now, but that’s another topic.)

My daughter, a bright-eyed bushy haired college student, speaks out for justice for all. And I’m proud of her, but she scares me. Will she go too far with speaking up? Will someone hate her for her love, for her passion, for her unwillingness to sit still and stand by quiet when she sees, feels, senses, experiences injustice? I pray for her protection. I don’t want her to ruffle feathers. But I guess human dignity is worth ruffling a few feathers.

And hers was the voice I heard this morning, this very gray icy morning.

“Some of the kids from the high school are holding a rally today…”

“Really? Because of Ferguson?”

She nodded.

Well let’s go!”

She was surprised. She knows this is not like me. She knows I’d gladly sit home and pray while she stands on that corner, joining others signs and voices raised,

“Black Lives Matter!”

“Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”

But today I joined this little group of mostly kids who stood out there in freezing rain. And I was encouraged by the many who beeped their horns in support. I was touched by the young teenager who asked what we were doing, and grabbed a sign to join us.

I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding the death of Mike Brown. Lots of discussions. Lots of violenceand way too much hate on all sides of the issue. There were a couple of hate mongers who passed by our rally tooI won’t dignify their words by repeating them.

But I also know a young man with promise is dead.

And that’s not okayon any day.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Maybe Your "To-Do" Today is Wait!

How to Trust God in the Waiting

My husband and I are in a state of transition. We’re “on the other side of something” to quote singer Sara Groves. We’re on the other side of raising our kids, of the big 5-0, let’s face itwe’re on the other side of life.

It’s one of those seasons when things are a bit uncertain. It’s not a terrible time, though I confess I do have to fight worry. Because there are more questions than answers. Questions like…
  •        Should we move, now that the kids are grown? And since that’s a probable…
  •        Where should we move? To a home nearby? A bigger move? To an apartment?            Another house?
  •        What will Chris do when he finishes his dissertation?
  •        Am I concentrating on the work that I’m called to? Is there something else?
  •        What’s our five-year plan? Our10-year plan?
  •        What are the things I/we want to experience, see, concentrate onWhat’s on                my/our bucket list?
And what does all this have to do with God-sized Dreams?

Well, when life seems a bit up in the air…my dreams seem a bit up in the air, too.

My God-sized Dreams are tied in to my practical, logical life. At least to some degree. I mean, sure, there are definitely elements of my God-sized dreams that are out of the realm of completely doable by me…otherwise they wouldn’t be God-sized, right?

So what’s a dreaming girl to do in the midst of uncertainty? <==Tweet This

This week Sarah Young’s devotional Jesus Calling spoke to me,

“When you don’t know what to do, wait while I open the way before you.”

Oooohhhhh…I see…WAIT!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not so good at waiting. I don’t want to wait. It makes me uneasy, impatient. Like the child I once was squirming in the backseat, I’m whining calling out to God, “When are we going to get there?”

I’m also wondering if God is on this? Is He really there in my details? Does He really care? Did I miss something…will I miss something in the waiting?

But that instruction…to wait while He opens the way before us. That’s the key. God has things to do…divine orchestration…lessons…the best instead of just plain good…in that waiting. Those things may have nothing or everything to do with me.

Regardless, I can trust God with my future. I can trust God with my questions. I can trust God with my very life. Because I…no, we have His Word. <===Tweet This

So in the waiting, we can trust and believe:

He’s got this and He’s got good things in store!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

He’s with us and will give us rest!
The Lord says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Psalm 29:11

3.   He will equip us to do His will!

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

So if you, like me, are in the midst of the toss and turn of questions, and doubts, fear, worry are threatening to drown you…Let’s wait. Let’s trust. Let’s hand over our lives and allow God to really take the wheel, and let’s enjoy the journey.
How can I pray for you?

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Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days of Writing - Speaking the Truth in Love

31 Days of Writing

The Power of Speaking the Truth in Love

When I think of friendship, I think of gifts. Because really, isn’t friendship made up of gifts exchanged - time, love, care, sorrows, honor, life?

There are many friends who have come in and out of my life.

Many old friends who I touch base with every year or soeven friends from long ago who are now just Facebook friends. Still the gift of friendship continues, sometimes in lasting memories, impressions, or impact.

One friend who is no longer a day-to-day friend, but still a treasured one who gave me a gift that kept on giving is Elysia. We’re still in touch. In fact, I talked to her for two hours the other day on the heels of her beloved dad’s passing. We were good friends in high school. Though we mostly hung out in different groups, they were groups that intersected often.

Our friendship began through our parents. Continue reading here...

Joining the lovely and very talented Kimberly Coyle as a guest!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

God-Sized Dreams - The Cost of Comparing Our Dreams

When You’re Afraid Your God-sized Dream is too Much Like Hers

Do you ever wonder, “Why should I bother trying to realize my God-sized Dream?”

After all…

Elaine has an established platform.

Jennifer has money to spend on her dream.

Catie has connections that swing doors wide open.

And, Susie? Well, she can afford to hire a babysitter…so she can dedicate more time to move her dream forward.

Oh my…this pit of comparison, it’s deep. And it can be really hard to climb up on out of it. (<====Tweet This)

I know…I’ve been there.

I’ve gotten stuck down there in the muck and the mire of lies. I’ve taken my eyes off my dream and placed them squarely on the dream progress of others. And you know what happens then?

I can get jealous, coveting what another has.
I can get entitled, believing I deserve something someone else got.
I can get resentful, not really wishing other dreamers well.
I can get UGLY!
And what I can’t get is any closer to my dream. Because my mind, energy, efforts are being used up by anxious, bitter, envious thoughts.

So what’s a dreaming girl– who’s gotten off track and trapped in a rut of comparison– to do?

We’ve got to regroup. We’ve got to take action against our wrong thinking. And we’ve got to get a little help from our friend The Lord!

Step 1 – Admit Your Comparative Ways – Are you guilty of casting your eyes upon someone else’s dream? It’s okay…we’re only human. But we can’t stop a destructive pattern of thinking if we don’t face up to it. So let’s just take a moment here.

Lord, am I wanting what you’ve given to someone else? Am I coveting my neighbor’s dream? Please show me, Lord!

Step 2 – Confess Your Comparisons – God made only one me…only one you. He tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He tells us not to covet. He tells us to love one another. He tells us to have a pure heart. And when we compare, we often neglect our own gifts, even worse, we can toss them aside, as though they’re not good enough.

Lord, I’m sorry I want what Jane has. Can you show me how you’ve made me? Remind me of the gifts you’ve given me…the dreams you’ve place in my heart? I’m sorry I’ve looked at my gifts as not good enough.

Step 3 – Be Mindful Going Forward – We can slide into the comparison trap without even realizing it. Maybe we’re tired…or weary…or frustrated with how our dream is going or not going. And our thoughts start to wander and we find ourselves wishing, hoping, daydreaming that our situation was different…more like hers. This is a temptation that God can give us victory over.

Oh Lord, please help me to be aware when my thoughts start to go there…When I wish things were different. Help me to keep a record of my dreams, how you made me, the progress and dream fulfillment you’ve allowed in my life.

Step 4 – Take One Step Forward on Your Dream Path – Think about what you really can do to move forward on your dream. One small step at a time. What can you do today? Do it!

Oh Lord, your desire is that I would prosper. You are my Dream Giver. Help me to trust that I am in your care. And show me Lord, what can I do today to fulfill the dream you’ve planted?

What small step toward your dream can you take today? (<====Tweet This)

Share in the comments so we can cheer each other on!!

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