Me too….

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Me too.
Hard to type it as I’ve put the past far into the recesses of my mind. But besides that there were other things over the years. 4th grade in Mrs. Burgess’s class some of the boys thought it cute to grab the girls in their private area as they walked by. In the classroom. Sad thing? It was only the pretty girls who were touched so there was a double edged sword. If I’m not grabbed am I not pretty? The grab happened. Yay, I’m pretty! But wait. Don’t touch me. Conflicting yet so wrong.

The neighborhood boys who thought it okay to chase the girls, pin them down and simulate the act. All the while hearing only screaming sounds of “Stop!!”.

Pool games with neighbors. Show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Childhood games that had no innocence. I didn’t show but the pressure was always there.

I personally know women with some very difficult stories. Things that make you weep with them. I also know many women who have overcome and who are better than their past. Who grew stronger and confident and brave and beautiful.

Men are not the enemy. I have wonderful men in my life. Respectful, kind, generous and loving. It’s the other men that choose darkness that taint the landscape. Some women do that too.

Be kind. Be loving. And may we never turn a blind eye again to injustices against women and their bodies. Never. Ever.

#metoo

 

 

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Heavy hearts…..

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seem to be a constant thing lately.  We’ve witnessed, whether up close and personal or via the news and social media, hurricanes, tornados, flooding, shootings and more.  It feels like every other week there is something causing us to sit back and ponder how difficult life is.  How fluid.  How it can all change in a mere moment.

How do we get to a place where there’s hope again?  How do we find that elusive light at the end of the tunnel?  What brings you to a place where you may once again exhale and feel safe in your surroundings?

I remember back to 9-11. We lived in the Boston area at the time and because of the distance to New York City, many of the residents in our area also traveled to NYC often. Several of the home offices of their businesses were there so travel was necessary. And flights to Los Angeles from Boston were so common. In fact, my husband flew from LAX to BOS that early morning prior to 9-11’s devastation.  It was impossible to live in that community and not know someone connected to this tragedy.

Shortly after, my friend and I went to a Neil Diamond concert at what was then called the Fleet Center in Boston.  It wasn’t long after 9-11 and security was at it’s highest level.  Purses were emptied, bodies scanned and we went through X-ray machines.  All this to get into a concert.  Funny thing though?  There was still some fear and trepidation.  We were with thousands of people in one place to see a concert.  We were a perfect target and that thought, although Neil Diamond was fabulous, never left us!

When he sang “America” though the place went completely wild!  Tragedy brought unity to the citizens of the USA.  Flags were flown on cars and in storefronts.  People were kinder to one another because as a nation, we all shared this “together”.

Now as a nation we’ve seen Harvey tear through Houston, the surrounding areas and my beloved Florida. We’ve watched San Juan, Puerto Rico and surrounding islands completely decimated by Irma and then Maria.  We’ve watched the tragedy in Orlando, Florida just a little over a year ago where 49 people were killed.  And last night, at last count 53 people killed and over 500 injured in Las Vegas.  And last but certainly not least, we have several racial issues that have broken hearts in 2017 and before.

What are we doing?  Who do we lean on?  What happened to that kinder, gentler nation we saw after 9-11?  And what on earth is it going to take to get it back?

It’s ALL of our jobs to fix this.  We can’t make madmen or women change their modus operandi but we can change how we treat one another.

  1.  Smile and say hello to the people who walk past you.  You don’t know them?  It’s okay. They won’t bite you and it doesn’t cost you one thing to say hello and greet someone with a smile.
  2. Do something unexpected.  Hold a door open for them.  You see someone carrying a load of groceries to their car? Offer to help!  Is there an elderly person walking into the store?  Grab a cart from the lot and take it to them.  You will make their day!
  3. Buy your person flowers for absolutely no reason. Don’t wait until the holidays when the same bouquet that would normally cost $10-$15 is now $40!  Come home with fresh flowers and receive a smile, hug and maybe something a little more! (Just saying.  Flowers are my love language.  So is helping around the house. Nod if you’re with me??)
  4. Don’t get angry because someone cut you off in traffic. Don’t show your kids that. Instead, say, “Maybe they are in a hurry to get home because their wife isn’t feeling well.”  I know. They probably are just impatient and think that they own the road but let’s teach out kids that it’s possible it could be something else!
  5. Out to eat?  Pick up someone’s tab anonymously. We see this quite a bit in drive thru’s and it is fabulous.  Try it inside sometime, too.  In our Cafe, we have been blown away by  the people who pick up someone else’s tab.  Let me tell you.  The one who is enacting the kind gesture receives a blessing as well as the one who is benefiting from the kind gesture.  But also, all of us around who are witnessing it are touched and uplifted. It truly has a domino effect!
  6. Tell someone that you love their hairdo or their dress or their shoes or that they look beautiful or handsome today. You can do this without it being a flirty thing.  Makes people feel good that someone noticed them.  Don’t we all love this?
  7. Another easy one.  Say please, thank you and I’m sorry.  Bump into someone?  Say sorry!  Someone hands you something or holds that door open for you? Say thank you!!  Asking someone to do something? Always end with a please.  So easy, friends!
  8. Zip our lips.  We will not ever agree with everyone around us.  Sometimes, this is really tough.  Really. Really. Tough.  But life goes on and we have to make decisions. Continue in relationship or has the ship sailed on this one?  Either way, we can still be friendly without being friends.  We can still be co workers without being friends. Believe it or not, we can still serve Jesus without necessarily being friends with those beside us.  And we can believe what we believe without alienating others.  Right or left leaners, especially, how we can learn from this.  Just because we have opinions doesn’t mean we need to share them. Especially in the way they have been shared in recent months/years. It’s been awful to witness and makes one want to completely unplug. It’s been worse than SEC football in the South even and that is saying a lot!!  Zip the lips.  Be kind even if you disagree!

To quote my friend and Pastor, Dr. Robert White, Jr.:

How to Disagree in a Disagreeable Time

Everyone knows there are serious differences and disagreements over any number of issues these days. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with having a difference or disagreement-it is the way we disagree that is important. Too often we end up going from talking with each other to talking at each other and finally talking about each other. Social media only makes it easier to follow this destructive progression.

I offer the following two quotes as worthy of our consideration                                             when we find ourselves in a disagreement.

“The crucial prerequisite of intelligent disagreement — namely: shut up; listen up; pause and reconsider; and only then speak.”
Excerpt from The Dying Art of Disagreement by Bret Stephens.

Maybe we should learn to heed the advice found in James 1:19 -“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen,                                                   slow to speak and slow to anger.”

By no means have I mastered this but I am working on it – I hope you are making progress as well-just in case we ever find ourselves in some disagreement with each other.

 

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Such a good perspective during times of stand up, kneel down, fist in the air, love the President, detest the President, you are an idiot for voting for him, “he” is God-ordained to be in office and so forth. It’s like a carousel that will not quit and all of our heads are spinning out of control. Where is the Dramamine??!!

I have hanging above my doorframe that leads to the garage this little sign I purchased on Etsy a couple of years ago. It is a quote that Jen Hatmaker said in her book, “For the Love”.  It’s a gentle reminder each day to our family and although we have not arrived in any sense of the word, when I look at the sign it jars me back into a place where yes, I need to:

Be Kind. Be You. Love Jesus.

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Jesus may not be your Person but oh how I wish He was. He is the most authentic, genuine lover of ALL mankind. As Author/Podcaster Jamie Ivey says in her upcoming book release, “If You Only Knew:  My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free”,

Jesus is Better!!

Be kind. Love people. Choose a smile over a frown. Hold a door open. Pray. Cherish. Serve. Make this world a better place because you’re here. Choose joy and gratitude.

 

With an abundance of love…….

Denise~

 

Dr. Robert White, Jr.

Jen Hatmaker

Jamie Ivey

 

 

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Bringing Maggie Home…..

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Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer was one of my favorite reads this summer.  A 70 year old mystery, dealt with by three generations of DeFord women leads to conflict, frustration and renewed love.

Hazel is haunted by her past.  Diane, her daughter, has issues over how smothering Hazel was. And Diane, Hazel’s Granddaughter and Diane’s daughter is the middleman trying to keep the peace in the home.

The mystery brings these three women together and you see a story of forgiveness, repentance, redemption and deep abiding love.

I received this book for my honest opinion.  My opinion is that you should read this. Sweet story with eternal satisfaction!

Bringing Maggie Home

Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer

 

Litfuse Publicity Group

Arnold Palmer….

~rejoice in the little things~

I grew up in a home where if my Dad was home, sports were on the television.  Didn’t matter what sport…..he loved them all.  But he had a special fondness for golf. He watched, he played, he built custom golf clubs.  He was in sales and in sales, deals are made on the golf course. And even if it wasn’t about a deal or networking, he was on the golf course.   An entire day was spent on the green and then a few drinks in the bar.  When Dad and my Other Mom moved to South Carolina, he spent some of his retirement working at a golf course. He loved it.  Was there all day, got to know the pros and played when he wanted to. Perfect retirement job.

In growing up with golf on the television, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were a really big part of my…

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Of Mess and Moxie

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Of-Mess-and-MoxieJen Hatmaker is the official BFF to women world wide. Her approachable personality, humor (much of it self-deprecating) and love for Jesus has won her fans and friends from all over the globe.

I first came to love Jen Hatmaker while doing her study “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”. Although I walked away from that book with a whole lot to chew on (only 7 items though. Just kidding….I didn’t do the food part), I really walked away from the next book of hers that I read. “Interrupted” changed my world. By the way, I had one opportunity to talk to Jen in her very own backyard and I choked up like an over obsessed fan to tell her “Interrupted changed my life.” Well, it did but seriously….that’s what I said. Insert a serious eye roll here and pray for a do over someday. Good gravy!

For real though, Interrupted DID change my world. I had just returned from my first international mission trip and my heart was aching for what I saw and for what I left behind. To come back to this world I live in, well it was a lot. Still is most days.

Then Jen penned For the Love and I read it and laughed and did some tearing up, too. Same with this latest release, Of Mess and Moxie. What a fun book. What a challenging book to allow myself and others grace. And what a reminder that “God created us to triumph; we are made in the image of Jesus who has overcome the world.”

Jen gently reminds us that we “don’t have to be who (we) were”. Grace, Sisters. Grace.

The How To sections are enough to make you howl out loud. My personal recent favorite is “How to Organize a Book Club”. Some of my friends and I just started one and it’s been a ton of fun. Because of things like this:

Select a book.
1.  Purchase said book with real dollars.
2.  Place book on bedside table for the next three to four weeks.
3.  Look at book each night with good intentions.
8.  Serve enough wine in hopes that no one will realize you didn’t open the book.
9   Discover that three out of twelve girls read the whole book. Admit that “Book Club” is   an excuse for women to leave their homes and basically drink wine and eat snacks.

Yes….howled because it’s so true!

Jen leads us through some good listening strategies. “We listen sincerely, we don’t just reload while someone else’s mouth is moving”. Ouch. Yes! And useful statements to help create safe spaces:

Tell me more about that.
Tell me how your thoughts progressed in this.
I appreciate your experience with this. I’m listening.

Chapter 10….Makers and Dreamers. One of my favorite essays in this book. You’re going to have to buy it to find out why!!

And to quote Jen one last time…..”So let’s go forth, Moxie Ladies. We have a world to love and a sisterhood to expand, and we’re just the girls for the job.”

This book is for all of the girls!  Enjoy!  #ofmessandmoxie

Denise~

 

BUY Of Mess and Moxie here!!

Jen Hatmaker

 

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My Daughter’s Legacy Review….

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Two separate stories yet intertwined. One current and one from years long ago but both of the women had a heart for Jesus and service. The authors took a sensitive topic (slavery) and gave those affected by it respect and honor. Reading each woman’s challenge of doing the right thing was inspiring. Therese and Nicole lives are very different yet their hearts are connected.  Historical fiction done well.  Therese’s story was written in 1864 and I felt as though I was there.

Slavery in 1864 and former substance abuse in present day. Both are topics that bring many emotions and possibly some triggers to the surface but Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould handle each one with grace and tenderness.

Look forward to reading more from these authors!! An inspiring read when circumstances challenge us.

 

 

You Can Do This….

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IMG_9641.JPGI have complete confidence , O God; I will sing and praise you!
Psalm 57:7

Do I really? Do you? “Complete confidence” is a bit of stretch even on my best days. Tricia Lott Williford invites us to her table. There’s a bouquet of fresh daisies and a cute red mug with white polka dots. And oh, the caramel toffee scones. Can’t forget those. Tricia invites us to her table to talk to us about two things:

Stop being unhappy with ourselves.
Stop second-guessing all of our decisions and commitments.

“You Can Do This” is about being the Confident Girl. Confident in her identity, beauty, intellect, aloneness, surroundings and more. Tricia is the head cheerleader who is the kind girl that brings the team into the fold. Everyone is welcome and in all of her words, she points us to the Head Coach….our relationship with Jesus.

Women take on quite a large role in life. Many are raising children while bringing home the bacon and cooking it, too. Many are fulltime with their children at home, with some longing for adult conversation. Most have many balls in the air and like myself, my juggling skills leave much to be desired.

Chapter 15 talks about vulnerability and the confident girl “choosing” vulnerability. For me, that can be such a tough thing because when you are a strong, mostly confident woman, it seems unnatural to need help. But we all do at one point or another in life. I recall some friends from college gently admonishing me once about this very thing. “Denise, you are always the sounding board for everyone else’s problems, but who do you tell yours to?” Exactly. I didn’t and kept it all in. Grateful now for people in my life I can share openly with without fear of betrayal or repercussions. Tricia talks about needing to borrow other people’s faith, courage and confidence when at one point, hers was all stripped away. For us, as confident women to have people in our corner whom we can borrow from is a goal we should all strive for. The Confident Woman can be vulnerable when her tribe is solid!

Some key thoughts from this fabulous book that is my favorite read of 2017 so far!!

Nobody gets to steal your confidence.

Know how to be alone.

You have the right to feel.

Boundaries are a girl’s best friend.

Be present in this moment.

Choose to not overreact.

You want to read this book. You will glean so much from Tricia Lott Williford and her words. She will feel like a good friend that you are sharing coffee and scones with and she points you straight to Jesus. No detours. No roads that are uncertain. That Confident Woman loves Jesus and helps me to love Him more!

The truth is that when you love yourself, everybody wins.    Tricia Lott Williford

 

Click her to go to Tricia Lott Williford’s Website

Buy You Can Do This HERE!

Five trips in….

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and my prayer was that I would see Guatemala with fresh eyes. I prayed that prayer before we left, each morning as we traveled to Chuluc and each evening as I laid my tired body on the bed at our hotel in Antigua.  Fresh eyes to see what was around me. To not become so comfortable in my surroundings that I didn’t see the needs.

God used first timers to help with that. Children with extra needs were brought to the forefront. Christy is a friend of mine (and the author of my hair color and style) and she went for the first time. Christy brought me to the place of fresh eyes in a way that I welcomed yet resisted.  “We’re doing the best we can” was my cry, but it’s never a bad thing to have our eyes opened to doing more or doing differently.  God used my friend, who is a fresh believer to be a part of my fresh eyes.  #grateful

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Seeing Christy’s son Mason playing soccer…..the entire week….with the children in Chuluc renewed passion. Oh how those boys love playing soccer. And a young man Mason’s age is perfect for that endeavor!

John and Emma were able to meet the young man they have sponsored for three years.  How thankful I was to witness this and to visit Alejandro’s home with them.  The joy in the faces of Father to Father was inspiring.  Emma met her Guatemalan “brother” and the bond was instant. Pure joy!

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As the sponsorship program through Mission Firefly continues, the children also continue to grow and age out of the program.  Some children choose to continue on in school, but the ones who leave age out.  Our sponsor daughter Nancy is 13 and is now working in the fields.  Her present is now her future.

We have two new sponsor sons…Tony and Brando.  We have known Tony’s family for quite a while and enjoy the continued friendship. We met them when they were a family of four but sadly they are now a family of three as Carlos, Tony and Miguelito’s Father and Irma’s husband passed away two years ago.  We continue to mourn the loss of Carlos.

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Brando is our newest sponsor son and we were fortunate to meet his Mother, Olga.  Olga invited us into her home for a visit.  Not sure what we were thinking as we walked to their home without a translator but we were able to sit in her kitchen and communicate with one another in spite of our language barriers.  It was a wonderful visit and God allowed me to use fresh eyes to embrace a new relationship and to appreciate that friendship even if we didn’t speak the same language.  #heartlanguage

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A team of men from our group and the village built 23 beds. These beds went to the most physically needy. The first bed went to Josephina, who struggles with debilitating arthritis.  Fresh eyes embraced her need and witnessed the love that these men had for her as they presented her with a new bed and mattress. #bestillmyheart

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Our first night, we met with our partners from Dallas, Great Commission Outreach.  It had been a long day and everyone was tired and to be perfectly honest, the last thing I wanted to do was go up on the rooftop and spend time with people I didn’t know sharing when it felt as though there was nothing to share about yet.  (Tired can equal grumpy for me sometimes. Many times.)  Well, those fresh eyes were wide awake as the Dallas team shared about their week. They were nearing the tail end as we were beginning so they had stories to share that filled our tanks, made us smile, tear up and revel in what God was doing.  We shared communion together under the stars, worshiping together in song and word and although many of us didn’t know the other, we were brothers and sisters sharing the same heart for a country we have all come to love. Fresh eyes, indeed.

May my eyes never be so sure, so clouded, so conclusive that I don’t see need around me. That I don’t see beauty. That I don’t see God.                                                                                 Fresh eyes always.

Locust Grove Baptist Church   Mission Firefly  Great Commission Outreach

To Notherhood and Beyond!!

My sweet and smart friend has just launched this blog. As a Mom of an adult, I’m so grateful for something like this that will help navigate the sometimes tricky waters in being the parent of an adult! Love!

Notherhood

These words you are reading on your screen have been a long time coming. I’m a bit nervous but beyond excited to finally get this going. It’s almost been a year since that first “we’re working on it” post.

This post has been prayed for, dreamt about and even agonized over at times. I wanted to choose just the right words that would form just the right message to start this ministry of encouragement out on just the right foot.

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