Who are you and what breaks your heart? I first heard this question a few years ago as a challenge from our youth pastor. Along with the other adult sponsors of our youth, I searched deep within myself to answer the question. The answer to the question is an important one and is different for every person. Within the answer to this question lies the desires of your heart, and where you can begin to find your purpose. It took me several days to fully craft my response. Over the next several years, I returned to the question as well as my answer, sometimes tweaking the verbiage, but never the message.
I am a musician, an engineer, a mentor; my desire is to leave things better than I found them; I am a sister, daughter, wife, mother, aunt, friend.
Suicide breaks my heart; cancer breaks my heart; human trafficking breaks my heart; seeing people make bad life decisions breaks my heart.
I am thankful for the One True and Living God who saved me from myself and, through His Son Jesus Christ, has saved me from my sins.
I am confidently persistent, boldly creative and passionately determined that I may inspire others to live a life that ultimately matters.
I am a believer in Jesus Christ and a firm believer that God has a plan for every one of our lives. In my young life, I struggled to find that purpose. Once I found it, I developed a passion to help others find their purpose in life as well.
This blog is a collection of life experiences, probably some past and some present, designed to connect with you on your life journey, to help you ultimately live a life that matters. My sincerest prayer is that through my words, you are drawn into a deeper relationship with the One who can fulfill your purpose in life.
Last week, we had the privilege of traveling to the desert in Arizona. While we were there, we took a day-trip to Sedona to see the Red Rock! The scenery was breathtaking, and nothing like we really experience in western Pennsylvania.
When it comes to high school graduations, or any graduations, for that matter. many times we take for granted the accomplishments of the graduate. During the ceremony for my nephew’s graduation, however, we were reminded in a a sobering way not to take those accomplishments for granted. One of the graduates gave a speech that brought most attendees to tears. He started his speech by talking about how easy his schoolwork came to him for most of his school career, and how easily all of his A’s came for him.. that was, until he experienced a life-changing brain injury because, in his words, he thought he was invincible.
He spoke slowly and deliberately, but immediately captured the attention of the thousands of people in attendance as he recounted his story. During his sophomore year of high school, he wrecked a dirt bike and suffered a life-altering brain injury. The doctors told his parents that if he lived, he would most certainly be a vegetable. He spoke of the incredible journey he’s been on as he had to learn to walk and talk again. The school administrators came together to re-design classes and programs for him so that he would be able to complete the work. It took a long time and a very strong will, but this young man stood courageously and addressed his fellow classmates.
He encouraged everyone to realize that life is precious, and we are not promised tomorrow. Indeed, we are not. This young man and his accomplishments were quite an inspiration to us all. May we be mindful that we are not invincible.
Copyright 2018 Journey For Life All rights reserved.
On Friday, my son came home from his freshman year of college, which is half way across the country. I had so much news to tell him about the miracles we’ve seen in the past few months. It’s not that we hadn’t talked with him, but some things are best said in person.
As a youth ministry student, I knew he would be as excited about our miracles as I have been. I invited him to breakfast Saturday morning at our local breakfast diner, and after a brief stop to complete paperwork for his summer job, I proceeded to tell him all that’s unfolded in the past 2 months for a Dream I’ve had for the past 10 years. It took about an hour of talking wildly.
After I was done, I told him I was planning to write a book about our experiences. He said he’d have to read it seven times to get all the facts straight!
Indeed, God has been very good to us. Though there are bumps in the road from time to time, His hand is definitely upon us and its wonder to drink in His goodness.
Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved
In all my 20 years as a mother, I have never spent the day on an airplane until this year! I’m lucky enough to be traveling with my own mom, as well as my children, to celebrate my nephews’ graduation from high school later this week!
Since I booked our flights last October, i was planning for an evening flight until, earlier this week, I received an email reminding me of our upcoming flight. It said our flight was 6 AM instead of PM! We had to make some last minute adjustments to accommodate!
My son arrived home from his freshman year of college on Friday. He missed his 6 am flight because he did not hear his alarm, so last night, we set multiple alarms for 2:30, 2:45 and 3:00 am to make sure we were on time for our flight.
So here we are at the airport, along with 10,000 of our colleagues who are apparently also traveling today. Who knew so many people are at the airport at 4:30 AM on Sunday mornings! Even the Alternate Security line was out the door!
We’re thankful to have arrived safely through security without incident, and eagerly looking forward to the weeks’ festivities
Congratulations to all the graduates of 2018, be it high school, college, med school. Job well done.
…and to all the mothers out there, traveling or not, happy Mother’s Day!
Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.
Is it better to beg forgiveness? (this post originally from 2016, when I was busted for remodeling our basement)
I have long lived my life by the principal of, “it is better to ask forgiveness than permission” – though several years ago, I had a realization of how theologically wrong this thinking is, it’s been a hard habit to break. This past week has been a fun one, though admittedly not much exercise has taken place (at least in the traditional sense) – I’ll explain as we go. Although not relevant to exercise specifically, I believe this episode does tie in to achieving goals. Bear with me.
Over the past few years, I’ve developed a hobby of sorts – cruising Craig’s List for “treasures”. And I have a garage full of “treasure-projects” now… in fact, I have some under my deck as well. It makes some of you laugh, I know. It does not make my husband laugh. Lol
Several weeks ago, I came across a guy selling giant wooden cable spools for cheap (sometimes they sell for $$$). Turns out, he was in the next town over so I made arrangements to pick up – only they didn’t fit in my van. I had the kids with me and we were driving, and I said, outloud, “If I could only think of someone who has a truck… well, I mean, your dad has a truck, but he doesn’t exactly like my game… who else…” and I went through the list of people I knew who had a truck and would be amenable to my ideas. And I thought of Josh. Josh has a big ole diesel truck just like Rich’s, except an automatic. So I asked him if he’d be willing to do me a favor and pick up these spools. I told him Rich didn’t’ know – and he said, “oh, good. I like being an ‘enabler’” Turns out, Josh had knee surgery, so couldn’t drive his truck. But was perfectly willing to let me borrow it, so I asked him to come along. I climbed up in his truck and he handed me the keys and I started her up – diesel’s are LOUD. We drove over to pick the spools up – while en route, I asked Josh if I was making him nervous. “not at all,” he replied. (Be sure to tell Rich that!) We picked up the spools and brought them home – now usually I do these things while Rich is at work, but the only time the spool guy could meet was on a Sunday afternoon. Rich was home working in his garage. “there’s NO WAY he’s not going to hear this truck coming up the driveway”, I laughed as we approached. But as luck would have it, he did not. We rolled the spools (which fit perfectly in the bed of the truck, I might add), out of the truck and into the back yard. Visible from the driveway, to be sure. Rich never came out of the garage. In fact, he didn’t’ say a word about it that night. I thought, “there’s no way he didn’t see them… is there?” Nothing the next day, either. Then, on Tuesday, when I came home from work, he gave me a great big hug (out of character, for sure). As he hugged me, he whispered in my ear: “would you PLEASE quit bringing $hit home! Please! You’re killing me”. LOL I laughed and said that I could not make that promise. Haha. Well. That was before the 5K. I do have plans for the spool(s) – and may have some more coming… shhhhh.
On the day of the 5K, I discovered Rich was working, so I decided it was the day I would buy the raw materials to finish my basement. We started it about 12 years ago. Rich did. He made a spare bedroom (which has now become Dani’s) and a suite for my mom – and it’s beautiful. The rest of the basement was concrete floor and studs. Several years ago, when the kids were starting to have friends hang out, we covered the studs with black sheets – which was better than studs, but still tacky. I decided it was time to finish it. But I also knew that I have limitations. And I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of a conversation about it, so I just figured out a way around my limitations. LESSON ONE: WHEN YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS, YOU MAY HAVE TO BE CREATIVE ABOUT ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS.
I knew I couldn’t’ carry a 4 x 8 sheet of drywall myself. And the thought of taping / sanding, etc, was daunting. I had been thinking about the project for a while, and checking out materials that I thought could be used – I decided I wanted to use brick paneling and make it look like old exposed brick wall. “don’t’ make it too dark” someone warned me. So off to Home Depot I went, because they had the brick paneling with the white grout. When I got there, after I wandered the parking lot for a cart, I asked the man in building materials if he would cut paneling for me. He said, “No”. So there I stood in Home Depot, pulling out my cell to call Lowes to make sure they’d cut it for me. I would have gone to Lowes first anyway (have ALWAYS liked Lowes better) but their brick paneling had black grout and I was afraid it would be too dark. “yes, you will cut it? Ok I’m on my way,” I said, and hung up. LESSON 2: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO COMPROMISE THE SMALL THINGS, WHILE KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE BIG PICTURE.
I went to Lowes and got my lumber cart and entered the paneling isle. It’s an isle I know well, because it has all of the fancy molding, etc, that I have used on other projects. I found a paneling that I liked (actually, two different ones, for different walls) and started putting it in the cart, one sheet at a time. A customer walked by, looking at somethings further down the isle, and then turned around and came back to help me load the rest. God bless him. Then, I took the paneling to the cutter, and asked if they would cut it at 32”, leaving a 16” piece – that way, it was small enough to fit in my van, and small enough for me to handle, but would still span the 16” studs in the basement. They cut all of the paneling – all 16 pieces of it. Then, I paid for it, and wheeled my cart to the car. Ok – windgusts of 35 mph that day in Pittsburgh. Have you ever picked up a thin piece of paneling in a windstorm? I can imagine that was quite a show! I wrestled about 3 pieces into the van, when another nice man stopped over to help me. God bless him, too. He said, “Boy, you are sure a strong and independent woman”. I looked at him gratefully and said, “well, maybe, but I sure needed YOUR help.” LESSON NUMBER 3: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ACCPET HELP, even if you didn’t ask for it. Well, we got the rest loaded in the van, and I brought it home. Already sore from the 5K, I asked Dani if she’d help me take it to the basement. We stacked it up… and then I moved it to a location that I thought would be better should Rich decide to come to the basement (which doesn’t happen all that often). As I moved it, I dropped a stack of the 16” pieces down my thighs, and they scraped the whole way down – now I’m brush-burned and bruised. .. and sore… lol I decided that I was anxious to start, but because I could only work on it when Rich wasn’t’ home, I decided to take vacation days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of that week. The electrician was coming back on Friday, so I wanted to be done with as much as possible. Things were actually going along quite well – I texted a few pictures out to people I trusted to give me good feedback – they told me it looked good. :-0 So Rich says to me on Wednesday, “do you think I could take your car on Friday to get the snow tires off? If I do, I’ll be home late. So you won’t have a car.” “Does that mean I get to drive your new truck?” “no” lol Hot dog, I thought – he’ll be late – I can keep working. SURE! That sounded great. And then the weather forecast – 4” of snow predicted for Saturday. On Thursday night, he said, “I’m not going to take your car, after all”. Dang. Does that mean you’re not going to be late, either? I couldn’t ask that. I just had to chance it.
So on Friday, he left for work, and I got to work in the basement – a whole week has gone by and he has no idea the work is being done. Jeff comes over and works on the electrical while I worked on the paneling some more. He told me it looked impressive so far, and he was surprised how much had gotten accomplished – and he was surprised I was doing it all by hand – yep, hand saw, paneling nails. Jig saw for cutting out the outlet holes. Outside wall complete. Inside walls in process, but with the hardest areas left – the part where the stairs come down – because of a piece of drywall that had been ripped off years ago. The kids come home from school – and they’re all excited to see it getting finished. Dani said, “just tell Dad when he finds out that he could have done it his way 10 years ago! Now we’re doing it your way!” (she also said she couldn’t wait to come home from college to see what other changes I make in the house… hahah maybe it will be in her room lol.) So Matt goes back upstairs, but Dani is standing there with me. Jeff had left for a bit to take something to his daughter at school. And I see it. Two feet on the stairs… and before I knew it, Rich was half-way down the stairs with a look on his face like, “what the… “ he stopped, looked around, and went back upstairs without saying a word. Jeff came back a little while later and was working on the outlet in the corner when Rich came down the steps again – twice in one day. I could tell he didn’t know there was someone else there, so I said, “would you like to meet my new friend, Jeff?” praying, “God, please let him be civil”. He was. (Thank you, Jesus). Later, I said to him, “Please don’t’ judge the work until it’s finished – and then tell me I did a good job”. (He’s a perfectionist – and good at everything, so I knew he would be tough to please – not to mention that I hadn’t even mentioned the plan to him!) I said, “Please don’t go down there until it’s done.” He said “oh, don’t worry! I don’t’ want anything to do with it!” ha. Perfect. Until Saturday, when he, once again, came down the stairs. “I thought I asked you not to come down here?!” “I’m just checking out the electrical work,” he said. Yeah, right. Ok. Well, after 17 more trips downstairs “not” checking anything out, he said to me, “you know, years ago, I got these oak wraps for the poles.” “I know – they’re in the closet over there” “surprised you know where they are,” he said. (sheesh, eye roll.) “Well, when you get to that point, if you want, maybe I could help you with that” Wow. That was acceptance. Ok, things would be ok. Lesson 3: TAKE CALCULATED RISKS. I say “calculated” because it’s never good to be reckless. I was reasonably sure that he wouldn’t divorce me over my decision to finish the basement, but it was a risk I took. (I’ve taken that risk several other times in our 21 years – I don’t recommend it for everyone – but it’s worked out ok for us so far). On Saturday afternoon, Rich even asked me if I wanted to accompany him and Matt to Harbor Freight. YES! I love Harbor Freight – and could surely find some tools… but no, I want to keep working here – thanks for asking. LESSON 4: WHEN YOU’RE BUSTED, OWN IT. Don’t make excuses about it.. it just is what it is. Gain acceptance and move on.
So my exercise for the week has largely consisted of carrying building supplies up and down stairs and ladders, and hand sawing (yes, hand sawing – it’s kind of like rowing only different!) wood, paneling and other materials, pounding nails, etc. The treadmill and rower (oh- the rower was a CL purchase last fall, if I didn’t tell ya’ll – I don’t like it as well as the one at the gym, but it works in a pinch) are all bunched up in the middle of the room so I can work on the walls. Hopefully within a few weeks, it will all be finished – literally! – I did order a chin-up bar, too! (can’t do a chin-up or pull-up to save my life, but Matt wanted it – so perhaps I’ll be able to build some upper body strength one day.. lol)
Blessings to ya!
If you’ve read my book Masquerade, thank you so much! Please leave a review! If you haven’t read it, please order it! It’s about a woman facing the battle of depression, knowing that the battle is a spiritual one, but unsure whether she’s strong enough to win!
Several years ago, I was asked to play keyboard for a Christian rock band that happened to be made up of all teenagers – and me. I love to play keys, and I saw it as an opportunity to be somewhat of a mentor to the kids, who were only slightly older than my own at the time. We played for a bunch of music festivals in the area, and a few “battles of the band”. As we prepared for one show, I happened to be talking to someone I knew, who told me that his sons were involved in a Battle of the Bands that weekend. Coincidentally, it was the same one – so I said I’d be on the lookout for them. When we arrived, we started to unload our equipment, I took a look around to see if I could identify someone who looked like they could be this guys’ sons. I identified a few potentials, but didn’t approach anyone. Then, all of a sudden, someone came up to me and introduced themselves to me – and it was one of his sons. We struck up a conversation, wished each other well and moved on. A few days later, they friend requested me on Facebook – so we connected and struck up a conversation. I thought perhaps his dad had mentioned our conversation and was looking for me as I was for him. I found out that his dad had not mentioned anything about me being there or anything, and was still curious as to what made him come up to me and single me out among all the other people there to introduce himself so boldly, so I asked him about it. His reply is one I never forgot – and to some degree it still haunts me. He said, “You looked like someone worth knowing”. Someone worth knowing. I wondered what exactly someone worth knowing looks like…. I wondered if, after meeting me, he concluded that I was worth knowing? And then I wondered if I was really someone worth knowing? Am I someone worth knowing? Isn’t everyone someone worth knowing? Are they? Have you met people not worth knowing? Am I sometimes someone not worth knowing?
In a subsequent event where their band played – at a place called Mr. Smalls near Pittsburgh, I was awed by something that transpired. Mr. Smalls is an old church building that’s been converted to a bar – and they were having an under 21 band night, so a bunch of us went to see the bands – and their band was playing. It wasn’t a particularly Christian event – in fact, not at all. But after one of their songs, their guitar player – a kid probably 17 or 18 years old at the time, while on stage playing hard punk rock music, told the crowd that he was a follower of Jesus – who had died to save him from his sins. He invited anyone who wanted to know more about it to find him after the show to talk. I was awed. Awed that he had the courage to stand in the type of crowd that it was and give his testimony and invite others to meet Jesus. I was simply amazed that someone as young as him would have the courage to do something like that. I mean… I was 17 once… and I’ve got to tell you, it would have probably been the last thing that I’d have ever done at that age. That young man has gone on to go Eastern University studying youth ministry and is now a youth pastor in Ohio, changing lives every week. Someone worth knowing indeed.
Be someone worth knowing.
Copyright 2018 Journey For Life – All Rights Reserved
If you’ve read Masquerade, thank you! I’d love to hear from you – you can leave a comment, or write a review for me HERE.
Ever face an obstacle in life that you just didn’t want to go through? Where you felt absolutely paralyzed to move in any direction, let alone forward? I had one of those days this week. So what did I do to escape? I hoped on a bike at the gym and just rode miles. And miles… and miles (kind of like Forrest Gump!) There was a time when biking wouldn’t necessarily have been my first choice…. And there are still many of things that I do to escape… like just crawling into myself and just playing the piano, or working on some sort of Craigs’ List project – or something that I don’t have to put actual thought into, but can do relatively mindlessly while I wallow in self-pity. It is good to have ways to escape. But the reality is that sometimes we JUST HAVE TO MOVE FORWARD. As much as we’d like to just sit down and pretend the world around us is not happening. But how do we do that?
What do I do when I really just don’t want to face it?
When I left for the gym that day after a whirlwind sort of morning dropped some things in my lap that I honestly just didn’t want to face, I had an overwhelming sense that I just needed to hear the voice of God. It was a craving for His voice to comfort me and tell me everything was going to be ok. I can remember when I was a young teenager, home on summer break. My mom, who worked at Carnegie Mellon University, set the expectation that we were to call her every morning when we woke up (because, of course, she left before I woke up). I remember that the sound of hearing her voice answer the phone was comforting. Years later, after I was married, I recall feeling that sense of comfort when I called mom and just heard her voice. Somehow on that morning, I craved the comfort that only my Heavenly father could give. I have a Bible app on my phone that I use regularly to read scripture… but I just wanted to HEAR scripture today. I’m not sure why I hadn’t done this before, but I downloaded the BIBLE onto Audible (an app I have for listening to books that I’ve been experimenting with for several months now). I really wanted to listen to Psalms, but the app downloaded the Bible in many “parts” (not by book or chapter), so I couldn’t necessarily tell which “part” was psalm, and they were still in process of downloading all 83 hours and 13 minutes of the complete New International Version of the Audio Bible. So Joshua 19 it was. The good news is that the narrator has an English accent, so it’s kind of cool hearing him read scripture. J Somehow I think God orchestrates far more in our lives than we ever realize, and I believe this event was no exception. Although the specific text of Joshua I was hearing was actually pretty dry (it was on the division of the land to the Israelites), my mind began to wander to the verse in Jeremiah (29:11) that is my life-verse. This is a verse that I heard explicitly in my early 20’s from Pastor Chris Livermore (who is still a very close friend of our family). “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future” It goes on to say, “then you will call on me and come to pray to me, and I will listen to you”. It was a reassurance to me that, even though I may face obstacles I don’t necessary want to, God has an ultimate plan for my life.
That evening, I dug out a few verses that I thought were appropriate for when we are facing unpleasant things. As I thought about it, and started searching for scripture that might give me an answer, I realized this was exactly what Jesus felt like when preparing to go to the cross. In the garden of Gethsemane, when He said (Luke 22:42-44, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. An angel from Heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground”. I bolded a sentence above – one that I had never even noticed before today. Even Jesus needed support – and the angel was there to strengthen him. And the angel was right there to support Him! The interesting this about this passage is that Jesus felt exactly like I did today – He had to face something he really didn’t want to have to do – and He even asked God to take it on so that He didn’t have to do it. We all know how that ended, right? He DID have to go through that which he didn’t want to… and so do we sometimes.
Our mountains are different – it could be a physical mountain; or an emotional mountain; an educational mountain like a test or something; but we all have them. I relish in the fact that I know I have a God that has a plan for my life – and know that He will strengthen me just when I need it. I am so thankful for the encouragement that you all have given to me along my journey – and I pray that I can be encouragement back to you to keep going when you don’t feel like it.
If you are faced with a mountain, you have several options.