Happy Friday!

Today, I’m at a women’s retreat up in the mountains. I’m writing this the day before I leave, but I imagine it’s cool, crisp, and smells of pine and wood smoke. I’ve had a busy couple of weeks with the Women of Faith Conference last week the women’s retreat with my church this weekend, but I’ve been learning a lot, and I’m excited to share it with you over the coming weeks. Can you believe it’s already the last day of September?!

So, Monday, October 3rd, my new newlywed’s blog is officially launching! You won’t want to miss the first week of fabulous posts we’ll have over there, and the giveaways! I will tell you the name and give you the official link on Monday, but I can hardly contain my excitement! I’ve snuck sneaked peeks at my two blog contributor’s posts for the rest of October, and I can’t wait! You’re going to love it.

You know that unsettling feeling, like you know there’s something you’re supposed to do, and you just can’t remember what? That’s how I feel right now. So, I’m off to finish packing, and then review my lists of things to do before the new blog launch. Have a great weekend friends!

WOFC: Mental and Emotional Healing

I’d like to share some more of my notes and thoughts on the Women of Faith Conference with you today.


During Session 3, Patsy Clairmont spoke about emotions again, as well as fear. She shared a little of her story about overcoming agoraphobia.  The first command she felt that God was giving her to begin her healing was simply “Make your bed.” Well, to make her bed, she had to get out of it. Once she got out of it and made it, the next thing she felt told to do was to wash the dishes. At the time, she didn’t feel like she was getting better, but God knew that she needed to learn to be faithful in those little things before He could use her to do much. 
“In Jesus Christ, we are never stuck,” she said. “We always have a next step.” 
Patsy spoke about creating mental boundaries to heal our minds and emotions. She learned to Refuse, Replace, and Repeat. 
  • Refuse. We can refuse thoughts that are not truth, thoughts are not beneficial, that are lies from the enemy to hold us captive. Speaking of captive, we need to take every thought captive and then decide whether or not to refuse it. 
  • Replace. Just refusing a thought is not enough, we must replace it with the truth from God’s word. She mentioned Philippians 4:8, we need to replace with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 
  • Repeat. It isn’t a one time thing. Taking our destructive thoughts and emotions captive and replacing them with empowering truth is a continual battle.
She also learned that she needed to “Minimize her wordcount.” She discovered that not everyone needed to know what she thought of everything. She read Proverbs 29:11: “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” I recently saw that verse in a friend’s facebook status. How appropriate for the way we communicate online! 
Patsy also brought up that some people didn’t need to minimize their wordcounts, but instead, “find their voice.” Some of us don’t vent all our feelings, we bury them. Some of us need to ask God for courage to speak the words that He wants us to say.

I’ve written before about thinking right thoughts, whatever is true, and learning that lesson again, and I’ve probably mentioned it more times than in just those two posts. I need to come back to it over and over again.

Even as I reflect on what Patsy said, I’m realizing that while I need to work on all three areas, I especially need to work on Replacing. Perhaps if I was better about replacing the bad thoughts with good ones, I’d be re-learning the “right thinking=right feeling and right doing” lesson less often.

I’ve decided to read through a chapter of Proverbs every day, but I really need to work on scripture memory. I’ve never been good at it, but it’s important enough that I keep trying.

I found this video of Patsy’s story on YouTube, and I hope it blesses you as much as it did me. 

During the Q and A time, someone asked Patsy, “In your recovery, did you ever feel like the moment had come when you were completely healed?” Patsy didn’t hesitate, “No,” She said she’s never felt like she was completely healed. “I don’t think that will happen until heaven, when we will be perfectly whole and healed.”

Often in my struggle with depression and anxiety, I’ve often wondered, “Am I there yet? When am I ever going to be better? Will I ever be healed?” I found Patsy’s answer oddly encouraging. I won’t ever be totally healed in this life. All my life will be a journey, a journey to complete wellness that will occur when I stand before God. I don’t have to compare myself to others or wish I made progress faster. One day, I will be healed. Until then, progress is what I can strive for.

Have you used the Refuse, Replace, and Repeat process? What were the results? How well do you do at memorizing scripture? Do you think there’s a link between memorizing scripture and thinking healthy thoughts?

Women of Faith Conference: Fun, Worship, and Overcoming Emotions

Last weekend, I attended the Women of Faith Conference, and brought a friend, for free. So before I divulge the details of the fun, worshipful, refreshing, and convicting weekend, I want to thank Booksneeze for partnering with Women of Faith to give bloggers the chance to go in exchange for at least two blog posts about it, one before and one after. I can tell you right now, I don’t think I can fit all I learned into one post, so today I’ll tell you about day one, sessions 1 and 2.

I’m here!
Tara and me, being very excited about the conference about to start
The stage 

The first session started at 10:00 am. After worship and some introductions to the speakers, Patsy Clairmont took the stage. She challenged us to start every day with three words. First, with “Yes.” Yes to whatever God has planned for us that day. Yes to His schedule and timing. Secondly, with “Thank you.” Thank you for another day. Thank you for all of His blessings. Thank you, even during the tough things that some days will bring, because they are opportunities to glorify Him. And thirdly, “No.” No to people and activities that divide our attentions from what is most important. No to Martha business, and Yes to Mary attentiveness.

She talked at length about our emotions. Sometimes as women, we feel enslaved to our feelings and we let them control us and dictate our behavior. Patsy said, “God has equipped us with a will that is stronger than our emotions.” We can choose to listen to truth over what our emotions are screaming at us. We can choose to believe the truth of God’s Word and what He says about us, and other people, regardless of how we might feel.

Patsy finished with three truths:

  • Life is messy. No one has it all together. We are all broken people with messy lives in need of grace.
  • People are textured. When we think we really know someone, we might be surprised. We need to realize that people may be hiding hurt or brokenness that we are unaware of, and they need our mercy and compassion. 
  • God’s ways are mysterious. His ways are so much higher than ours, we can’t understand why He does what He does a lot of the time. But we can trust His character, and believe that He does have a plan and no suffering is wasted. 
We took a break for lunch, and I was pleased to discover that we didn’t have to pay for lunch after all. Every one got a free boxed lunch, and the leftovers were donated to an area shelter. 
Notice the WOF label on the water bottle 😀

When we came back, Andy Andrews spoke, but I didn’t take any notes, because he was kinda all over the place… literally. The entire time he talked he paced all over the stage, running up and down the stage stairs, up and down the aisles, and back and forth in front of the stage. 
But basically, he told his life story. He lived a normal life until the age of 19, when his mom died of cancer and his dad died in a car crash. Soon he was homeless, and through the influence of a man named Jones, started reading autobiographies. Soon he was hooked, and while he was homeless, he read over 200 biographies. He determined a set of seven principles that guided the men and women he read about, and began implementing them in his own life. Now, he has written several novels in which the characters apply these principles, and he is a motivational speaker who encourages audiences to apply the principles to their lives.

He also talked about investing in yourself. I think it was one of his principles, but he talked about the importance of reading. Reading invests in our mind, because it increases our knowledge and wisdom. Investing in ourselves makes us a better contributor to society. 

I learned a lot from session three, so I’m going to save that for another post. But at some point during session three, there was a Q and A for Patsy and Andy. The questions and their answers were so enlightening, I wrote them all down. I’ll save some of them for another post, but the first question was related to the first session: “How can you make your will stronger than your emotions?” 

Patsy replied, “It already is!” She explained that many times we don’t realize it, because we haven’t exercised it. Our will is like a muscle, and the more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Whether we are refusing a fourth piece of cake or a self-deprecating thought, our will is already stronger than our emotions, and we need to choose to use it to say no.

That session ended at 3:30, and we had a break for dinner, until Session 4 started at 7:00. Tara and I walked down to TGI Fridays, not realizing that the Diamondbacks were playing the Giants that night. We had great seats to watch the warm up!

Tara and I had a great discussion during dinner, and since we still had plenty of time before the next session, we kept talking and walking. Tara was surprisingly energetic after eating, so we spent the rest of our time walking around the block and then doing laps around the concourse. I was SO full after my wonderful meal at TGIF,  I would have been perfectly content to sit in our seats for an hour and let my food turn to fat, but it was good for me to get in my exercise for the weekend!

If you go to the Women of Faith conference, I highly recommend going with a friend. Not just because they’ll encourage you to exercise, but because when you discuss the messages with someone else, you learn so much more!

I loved Friday night. Session 4 started with all of the speakers giving a short introduction. We’d already met Patsy Clairmont and Andy Andrews, and we were introduced to Mandisa, Marilyn Meburg, Sandi Patty, Lisa Whelchel, and Brenda Warner.

Lisa Whelchel
Mandisa 
Marilyn Meburg
Sandi Patty

Lots of People!
We sang several fun songs about being women 🙂

Deborah Joy Winans performed a hilarious skit about all the roles we play as women. She opened a suitcase and pulled out a prop for each character role we play, such as Wendy the Workaholic, Charlotte the Chauffeur, Linda the Love Slave, and a peppy exercise girl, accountant, soccer mom, and psychiatrist whose names I don’t remember.

We were also privileged to see Tim Hawkins, since the Phoenix event was the only one he could make. Both Tara and I laughed so hard that we almost threw up, that’s how funny he was! If you need a good laugh, look him up on you tube. My favorite parts of his thing were the thesaurus prayers, bedtime prayers, and his dance to “Party in the USA.” If you ever get a chance to see him live, do it!

The Women of Faith tour partners with World Vision, so we got to watch a video of a beautiful true story about an ordinary woman who decided to start sponsoring a little girl at a Women of Faith Event. This woman corresponded to this girl and then with her young mother. They were able to help this single mother start a business, send her children to school, and journey from hopelessness to hope. When World Vision gave this woman and her husband a surprise trip to visit the family, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place!

Probably my favorite part of Friday was worshiping with Mandisa. I loved her music before, and I’d been inspired by her weight loss journey and blog, but seeing her live was so much better. Her talent is mind-blowing, her joy contagious, her worshipful heart inspiring.

Mandisa

When I got home, I made a list of my “takeaways” for the day:
1. Say “Will you forgive me,” more often.
2. Plan to invest in my personal growth.
3. Face my fears to overcome them.
4. Realize that all my choices and actions matter.
5. Realize that Brian and I are both broken, and I must take responsibility for myself.
6. I need to build Brian up more, making a conscious effort.
7. I will pray about when God wants us to have children.
8. Write to sponsor child.

Over the next few days, I’ll tell you more about how I came to those conclusions.

To end today’s post, what do you think about saying Yes, Thank you, and No every day? How would your life be different? 



Have you used the Refuse, Replace, and Repeat strategy before? Do you believe that your will is stronger than your emotions? Why is it hard to exercise our will and not obey our emotions? 


Do you invest in yourself? Why or why not? 

Gifts, Large and Small

Taking time to be thankful on a Monday evening…
556. Breakfast, Bible Study, and journaling on the patio. That’s Greek yogurt and blackberries there in my bowl. I’ve really enjoyed spending some quiet time outside in the mornings, since it’s been a little cooler here lately. 
557. Early mornings. I’ve been trying to get up at 5:30 a.m. to help Brian with his lunch and see him off to work. Then I eat my breakfast and exercise. I’ve really enjoyed having more time in the mornings!

558. A wonderful weekend with the youth group. On Saturday, we had a youth group service project followed by swimming at the senior pastor’s house. We cleaned the youth room, which hadn’t even been vacuumed in at least the year we’ve been attending church there, if not longer. We also cleaned the carpets, which was very needed. 

Before
After!

In addition to cleaning and organizing the youth room, we cleaned and did yard work at the home of an elderly couple in our church.

It was a blessing to work alongside the teens. They had such good attitudes and servant’s hearts, and were downright hilarious! Afterwards, I finally felt like they liked us. In the whole time we’ve been leading the group, I’ve always felt a little resented, and finally after working and playing together Saturday, I really feel like they do like us and are glad we’re there.

559. A wonderful Sunday. Brian did a great job teaching Sunday school in the morning and youth group that evening. I really enjoyed both lessons, and I think the teens did too.

560. I have an amazing husband. I really do. Sometimes his insight and thoughtfulness just blow me away. Sunday night one of the guys was really getting on my nerves. He tends to be disruptive and more than a little annoying most of the time, and it was really bad during youth group. Brian got onto him about something and the kid walked off and went outside. Brian took time to follow him out there and talk one on one to find out what was really going on in his life. He then and offered to help the situations that were most on his mind by giving him some math tutoring and taking him to the church men and boy’s campout this weekend.

And even though he strained his back this week and is in quite a bit of pain, he’s trying hard to keep a positive attitude, which I really appreciate.

561. Next weekend is the Women of Faith Conference in Phoenix! I can’t wait!

562. The weekend after that is the Ladies’ Retreat! Brian had to force me to go last year, and I had such a great time. I’m really looking forward to this year. September is going to fly by with all these weekend events.

563. October 3rd is the tentative launch for my new blog endeavor! I’m very excited, even though there is a lot to be done in the meantime.

564. Friday is the first day of fall. It’s been a little cooler here in the valley, at least in the mornings, and it definitely feels like it. I’m hoping to do some fall clothes shopping here in the next couple weeks so that I have some new things to wear to the conferences, and just because!

So now I want to know, what are you grateful for this week? Did any special gifts come your way?

I’m in the Mood for Fall

Fall style….
Fall crafts and decor…
Fall parties…
and fall food…
Sigh. 
This one sums it up: 
All of these images are from my pin boards on pintrest, a fabulous inspiration and creativity tool! Leave a link in the comments if you’re on it, and I’ll follow you! I’d love to see what you’re pinning. 
What are you most looking forward to about fall? Click on “links to this post” or the post title to leave a comment. 

Linking up with Pin It Tuesdays today.

”Crazy

Photos for Thought

You know how it is when you have so much on your mind that you can’t think of anything to blog about? Yep, that’s me. I think days like today call for a photo post. Today’s shots were all taken with my ipod, believe it or not.

This is a picture I took using instagram when we were at the beach for my 21st birthday. I call it: Farmer’s Tan.

This is the dog, Kopek, getting comfy with the curtains….

Puppy love…
Another picture from the beach. 

The weirdest airport…ever…
Vegas airport, where we flew to and from on our trip last weekend
 Home…well, Brian’s parent’s home, taken just before we left to head back to Arizona
The beautiful corn fields and blue skies of Iowa.
What do you think? So far, I’ve really enjoyed taking pictures with my ipod, especially with instagram. What’s your favorite tool for snapping pictures on the go? 

Update on Our Family Situations

Hi friends, I can’t thank you enough for your prayers! Brian and I had a wonderful trip home over the weekend.  It was such a blessing to us, and to our families.

We got to visit my Aunt Joy at home, because she was released from the hospital several days early! She encouraged us so much. She told us that the tumor is cancerous, called a glioma. Some of it is inoperable, so they will start chemo and radiation once her skull heals from her biopsy/brain surgery. They are considering Mayo clinic and the cancer center in Chicago, in addition to the cancer center in Des Moines.

It had only been a week since they discovered the tumor, and in that time, she’d found out she had cancer, the prognosis was one to five years, and had undergone brain surgery to remove some of the tumor. That’s a lot to take in just a week. But she kept telling us, “God is so good!” and recounting all the ways He had already provided for their needs. “He knows what He’s doing, He knows.” She said. That has a lot of weight when it’s coming from someone in their mid 40’s, facing an aggressive disease, with four children at home. 

The white baby blanket symbolizes my cousin Andrew, who passed away as a baby.

I felt so reassured after seeing my aunt’s positive attitude, and peace. I’m sure she has lots of fears, but at the same time, she has great confidence in her God. She accepts that this is part of His plan for her, and trusts His heart.

She also realizes that it is an opportunity. When we were visiting, she shared that a friend was stopping by in the evening, and she hoped that she could lead her to Christ. Aunt Joy and Uncle Rod are also reaching out to the Drs. and nurses and sharing their hope in Christ with them. I’m confident that wherever they go for treatment, God will use them to impact the medical staff.

We also spent time with Brian’s mom and dad in the hospital. My MIL still cannot move her legs, but since they discovered she has a staph infection and put her on antibiotics, the pain has decreased. After several days, they saw the infectious diseases doctor. She was the first to agree that there had to be a connection with the staph infection and her pain and immobility of her legs. She ordered a MRI of the area with contrast, and found inflammation in the area. It’s unclear why the staph would camp out there. It’s also unclear if she will regain the use of her legs when the infection goes away.

As of yesterday, the pain is centered in her left leg, and she lost the ability to use her inner thigh muscles. They plan to move to the rehab center at the hospital.

A few days ago, the neurologist told them that her leg muscles were “dead” and she’d never walk again. They got a second opinion from a doctor, and he said with lots of therapy, she might regain some use of them. The doctor of infectious diseases said she’d be totally fine. Obviously, there’s just a little difference of opinion there. 

It’s very frustrating for my in-laws. They don’t have much confidence in the staff, especially after a Dr. claimed she had pneumonia, and later, a heart murmur, which required a test to make sure her heart valves were fine. And it turned out, she had neither pneumonia nor a heart murmur.

It seemed to me that my MIL was very anxious about their insurance and how they were going to pay for everything, and my FIL’s business. He’s been staying at the hospital 24/7, so he hasn’t gone to work this whole time, and probably won’t until she’s better. When you own your own business as a consultant, that’s not good. Please pray that they will both focus on getting her better, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

None of what’s happened to them is an accident. Not even the unnecessary heart valves test. Pray that they will see this as part of God’s plan, and be open to whatever it is that God is trying to teach them through this.

We got to see a lot of family members and some friends while we were there, and it was encouraging to know that they were praying for Aunt Joy and for Brian’s mom. God gave us a few unexpected blessings, like being able to go to the ISU football game for free, and being able to attend the 75th anniversary of the church we went to in college. The whole trip was filled with blessings, everything from being able to get on planes when flying standby, having dinner with my sister and her family, and spending the night with our good friends in Ames.

It was filled with food for thought for me. I thought about how I would respond to sudden illness…would I have peace, trust, and joy? Would I see it as an opportunity to grow in my faith, or become bitter? I realized that I have a lot of spiritual growing to do, but I’m glad that God gives us grace to face anything, right when we need it.