Walking & Whispering with Pearl

Walking and Whispering With Pearl

By Charlotte Guest

“…but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and  after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper…” 1 Kings 19:12

Our girl, Pearl, is a blue Shar Pei. She’s stubborn and sweet, feisty and fun. Pearl is gregarious yet she can be a bit timid at times. We take a walk every day, a walk that blesses us both in countless ways. When I ready her leash and harness, she’s eager to go. We both know a little sunshine and blue skies await us. The fresh air and sometimes blustery Oklahoma breezes encircle us as we listen for the songs in the sky. Red-wing blackbirds call out from the marsh, keeping time with faint croaks from the pond frogs. We love the routine, the route and greeting our friends along the way. Two white Pekin ducks and their mallard friends are a welcoming site on the water that reflects the clouds. Sometimes, we spot the blue heron who makes surprise visits. When we amble around the bend, near the barn in the distance, I’ve learned to slow my steps and speak softly to Pearl. She’s still young and isn’t quite yet sure how to behave near the horses that desire to be her friend. As we walk closer, my voice lowers. Pearl’s glances reflect her uneasiness and, almost always, she leans into my leg, barely peeking out from behind me. The majestic horses tower over her, unlike our feathered friends who remain at her eye level. Pearl looks intently at me and then at the horses. “It’s okay, Pearl,” I whisper as she inches ever so closer to bottom of the white fence. The nut-brown horse usually is the first to lower his head, softly snorting, nudging his nostrils to greet Pearl. I speak softly, assuring Pearl that all is well, as she moves closer. I’ve loved watching her confidence grow with each walk. I treasure her soulful eyes, searching mine for reassurance and remember that I, too, hear a bit better in the Holy Spirit’s gentle whispers. Sometimes, we can hear in the fires and earthquakes of life. I thank God for reminding me that there is much to learn while walking and whispering.

Lord, help me listen to your whispers. Thank you for teaching me how to trust You and your voice in my life.

Pop-Tarts® and Prayers

The first car swerved into the adjacent lane, narrowly missing the two dogs on the busy street. The second car careened even closer. The third car, my car, stopped abruptly. “Those dogs aren’t going to make it,” I thought “unless I get them out of this traffic.” 

I slammed on my brakes, jumped out of my car, into the middle of the street, waving my arms frantically as cars swerved around me. “C’mon puppies, this way!” I yelled loudly, running at them to redirect their path. Thankfully, they responded and headed into the yard of a nearby house. “Bless their hearts!”, I said to my own dog, a blue Shar Pei named Pearl, in the front seat of my car. We had just left her vet for a check-up and were running an errand. 

The elderly golden retriever with a bright blue collar was panting heavily. The younger, shorter mixed breed, a black and white pup, had a bit more energy yet stayed by the retriever’s side. Both were hot, tired and disoriented. It was almost 96 degrees on this steamy, sweltering summerday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The air was heavy, oven-like and oppressive.

“Lord, please help! It’s just too hot” I said. Thankfully, I had some dog treats with me that I’d packed because of the vet appointment. “C’mon puppies, here’s a treat.” The golden, with his warm, browntrusting eyes looked relieved and tentatively ambled forward. He gobbled them up. His side-kick, following the older dog’s lead, ate a few. 

“Maybe they live here, I thought.” With treats in hand and the dogs nearby, I rang the doorbell. “I’ve never seen them,” said the timid voice behind the door…which quickly shut as I asked, “Do you have any water?” I rang again but no luck. After all, I was a stranger and those were not her dogs. “Lord, please help…send me help,” I said. 

Just then, a car entered the neighborhood. I flagged it down. “Ever seen these dogs?” The young girl replied, “I haven’t, but my mom works nearby, maybe she has.” Thankfully she parked nearby. 

With the last of my dog treats, I tried, unsuccessfully to get the dogs in my car. Having had a neck surgery, I simply wasn’t as strong as I used to be. Lifting the golden felt impossible. When I tried to catch the black and white pup, it ran off. With sweat pouring from my brow, I asked the young girl, “Can you help me?” She replied, “I’m not good with dogs, but I’ll say with you.” 

The dogs were panting heavily by now. We had no water and it felt like I was losing their trust. Another car came from the other direction and I flagged it down. The dogs had run off, heading down a nearby street. “I’m a dog-sitter,” said the driver, another young girl, and “I’m good with dogs,” she said enthusiastically. Off we went. “Do you have any food?” I asked as I had used the last of my treats. 

“I have some Pop-Tarts®” said the first girl who had indeed stayed. Handing me what was probably her breakfast she said, “Use these – it’s all I have.” Together, the dog sitter, named Bri, and I coaxed the almost exhausted dogs closer to my car. “Can you help me lift the big one?” I asked. “I just had my appendix out,” Bri said but maybe we can do it together.” As the smaller dog ate some of the Pop-Tart®, I grabbed him first and put him in my back seat. Together, Bri and I got the big golden in next and closed the door. The dogs were a bit scared but, in the cool air conditioning, they were content. I have some water bottles Bri remembered and we gave them a drink from our hands.

“Now what?” I thought. Maybe back to the vet? Hopefully they will take them. But…if not? “Lord, please show me what to do next.” Anothercar came near us and, without thinking, I flagged it down. “Ever seen these dogs? I asked and then, recognizing the driver said, “I know you, right?” He replied, “I’m Tom, Jennifer’s husband.” Relief! Jennifer is my new friend I met playing golf. “Call Jennifer, she’s home and we live next door to a dog rescuer,” Tom shared. 

“Please answer,” I prayed as I dialed Jennifer.” She did and shared her neighbor’s number, named Amy, who also answered. “I’m home now…bring the dogs to me.” Off I went, filled with hope and two tired dogs. 

Amy, equipped with a microchip reader in hand scanned the golden. “He’s chipped!” she said and, thankfully after a few minutes, learned his name and address. “I can take them from here” she said and loaded them in her car. The smaller dog was not chipped. We did not know at that time if he was from the same home. 

As Amy drove away, I remained in awe. How was it that I had dog treats, a sweet girl with Pop-Tarts® shared her breakfast, a dog-sitterarrived on the scene and someone I recognized who knew a dog rescuer with a microchip reader were on the same street at the same time when these dogs needed us. 

“Isn’t that just like God?” I thought, as I drove away, thankful for a happy ending to this almost tragic tale. I’ll always remember this story and especially the girl who stayed, whose name I did not get. Sometimes, offering what you have, like Pop-Tarts® and prayers are all you need. 

 

*P.S. After this story was written I felt led to purchase some Pop-Tarts®and try to find the owner of at least the golden retriever. I went to the location the dog rescuer shared with me and knocked on one door. That neighbor pointed me to a house a bit further down, across the street. Guess who greeted me at the door? Hooray! There was the golden retriever. Turns out, he’s 11 years old, is named Parker and his new side-kick, the elusive puppy named Buddy, did live with him. The owner, named Shawn, was so grateful. A gate had been left open by mistake and curious Buddy took off to explore. It was heartwarming to see two happy, healthy dogs who seemed excited about the pop tarts. Shawn and I talked about the importance of micro-chipping your pets and how thankful we both were that he was reunited with his dogs. I love the title of this magazine: All Creatures. It was amazing how, that hot summer day in Tulsa, God did useall kinds of “creatures” – post-surgery, dog loving people, a girl I’ll probably never see again who had pop-tarts, a friend’s husband and a dog rescuer to help two sweet creatures in the middle of a busy street. 

With permission, here are photos Bri took of Parker and Buddy in the back of my car. Bri is a dog-sitter affiliated with, Rover the dog-sitting service and app which I highly recommend to find excellent dog care.

Precious Parker
A hot little Buddy
Patient Pearl who seemed to know we were helping the dogs.
Thank you Bri!
I’m headed here! I can’t wait to learn from others. I’d appreciate your prayers.

You Were Born To Fly

Today, I find myself in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m on a fun, yet long adventure and am driving a 10 foot U-Haul across the country. Our youngest daughter, Cambri, needs some of her things for her senior year at USC in Los Angeles and I’m the deliverer. It’s actually been a fun and inspiring journey as I have never done anything like this by myself.

I awoke this morning to this beautiful sunrise:

It’s the Sandia mountain range and they are especially beautiful this morning.

“Oh how I’d love to fly close to that majesty!” I thought when I saw that glorious sunrise unfold. I was then reminded that eagles can and that perhaps many do soar near these mountain tops daily to take in the grandeur.

My dear friend and mentor, Shirley Staires, shared a story with me years ago that I remembered this morning as I imagined an eagle, soaring over the mountains.

It’s called: The Chicken Eagle and I’ll summarize it for you:

A naturalist was visiting a farmer one day and was surprised to see a beautiful eagle in the chicken coop. “Why in the world do you have an eagle living with chickens?”

“Well,” answered the farmer, “I found him when he was little and raised him here with the chickens. He doesn’t know any better; he thinks he is a chicken.”

The naturalist was dumbfounded. The eagle kept pecking the grain and drinking from the watering can, keeping his eyes on the ground, scratching around in circles.

“Does he ever try to fly, try to spread his wings and soar?” asked the naturalist.

“No,” said the farmer…I doubt he even knows what it means to fly.

The naturalist asked the farmer if he could take the eagle out of the coop and spend some time with him.

“Sure,” said the farmer but I think you’re just wasting your time.

The naturalist took the eagle and lifted him to the top of the chicken coop fence. “Fly!” he said, to the frightened eagle who fell to the ground.

Next, he took the eagle to the top of the hayloft and spread its wings before tossing it high in the air. “Fly!” he said excitedly, hoping to see the eagle take flight on its own.

Again, the eagle crashed to the ground and resumed scratching and pecking the ground.

Then, the naturalist took the ruffled eagle out, away from the chicken coop. He set the docile bird in the front seat of his pick up truck next to him and headed for the highest butte, away from the farm.

He tucked the bird under his arm and spoke gently: “Friend,” he said to the eagle, “you were made to soar.”

After a lengthy and sweaty climb to the crest of the butte, he lifted the eagle up and, once more, said “FLY!”

He tossed the eagle out and, this time, much to his relief, it opened its 7 foot wingspan and flew gracefully into the sky. The eagle slowly climbed in ever higher spirals, riding unseen thermals of hot air until it disappeared in the glare of the morning sun.

The naturalist watched as the eagle flew over the chicken coop, perhaps bidding farewell to the farmer and his chicken family.

The naturalist smiled and thought how satisfied he was with his days work. Like the eagle, he had for many years, let other people define his worth and direct his path. Yet, with a change of environment, hope in his heart and faith to try something new, he found his self-worth and real calling.

The moral of the story, of course, is to not let other people define you or limit your influence and purpose.

You were created to fly!

If you find yourself in a “chicken pen” environment, it’s time to get out of that coop.

What some peck away at throughout life is not part of your purpose. If you choose chicken feed you will miss out on magnificent morsels. You were made to soar on wings with eagles.

We all are children of God with unimaginable potential. Our Heavenly Father knows our purposes and has given us individual missions and special, unique gifts needed to accomplish them.

Isaiah 40: 31 reminds us of this: “ they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

This promise should become more and more enticing to us. But, sadly, like the eagle in the chicken pen, surrounded by others with downcast eyes, most people lack the desire to discover their God-given abilities and talents.

It is when you get out of the coop, look up to your Creator and seek His counsel, that you become all that you are meant to be.

So…start today! Venture away from familiarity. No more chicken feed. Fly high with your Creator. Seek His path for your life and enjoy a heavenly vision of purpose.

* For those of you who are following my U Haulin’ adventure, I’m exploring Albuquerque today, then am off to Arizona tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers. I feel and treasure them and you!

Recovering Joy 🌻

Feeling blue?

Down? Depressed?

Ever heard of the term “acedia?”

Acedia s from Latin acedĭa, and this from Greek – “negligence”, ἀ- “lack of” -κηδία “care”).

This term has been defined as “a state of listlessness or torpor” of not caring or not being concerned with one’s position or condition in the world.

Felt this way lately?

SO many have and still do.

In ancient Greece akidía literally meant an “inert state without pain or care.”

Early Christians used the term to define a spiritual state of listlessness and from there the term developed a markedly Christian moral tone. In modern times it has been taken up by literary figures and connected to depression.

Well…
I felt this way last week.
So have some of my friends.
It’s hard not to.

Covid days, a polar vortex storm, days on end of passions and purposes thwarted leads to downward spirals.

Countless days have been downers.

We’ve lost people we cared about to Covid – great people.

The power outages and ramifications of the recent snow storm seem unending. A friend in Texas said “well, our power stayed on but I feel I’ve lost all MY electricity and energy.”

So. Much. Awful.

I get it. It’s everywhere.

But…

WE CAN’T STAY THERE.

Depression, malaise, the blues, anxiety & acedia need to be exposed and banished.

You CAN do that.
Together, WE can do it.

Gordy Guest and I prayed that feeling of acedia away on Saturday and, within a few hours, joy was back. Literally, a heaviness over and in our home lifted. We felt it leave.

Friends, these are tough days.

We can be tougher. 💪🏼🙏🏼

We MUST chose to go after the negativity and get. it. OUT.

We were SO encouraged today, at Asbury, our church in Tulsa by our Sunday School class, by Pastor Tom’s awesome message (go to Asbury on Facebook and tune in) and by one worship song in particular called “King of Kings,” by Hillsong.

My favorite lyrics in that song are these beautiful words:

“In the darkness we were waiting
Without hope, without light
‘Til from Heaven You came running
There was mercy in Your eyes
To fulfill the law and prophets
To a virgin came the word
From a throne of endless glory
To a cradle in the dirt”

We can combat acedia through tapping in to the love of Christ.

Talking about this “acedia” feeling with those you trust, praying with others, PRAISING in the midst of pain and being with the body of Christ all help.

Because we are empty nesting, we worship at both Asbury & at Life.Church. We love both places and are grateful for encouraging people and wonderful pastors & messages.

Tap in, friends.

Don’t stay down.

Choose.
Choose joy.
Choose joy TODAY.

Choose to go after joy, hope and let’s collectively wake up.

Tough times call for us to arise in Whose we are and who we are.

We were not made to stay down, to live with the blues or in a state of “not caring”.

On a wonderfully encouraging Empty Nest Guests podcast, I interviewed Michelle Van Loon, author of Becoming Sage. She’s awesome and taught me about the term “acedia”.

Acedia is gripping our society…even the most positive people and it’s time to expose it and rise against it.

It’s time to recover joy.

May the song King of Kings bless you.

May Pastor Tom’s message bless you.

Turn on praise music.
Call a friend.
God wants so much more for His people.

The snow will melt and the sun will emerges this week. Praise Him for that.

As power is restored to homes, may His power be restored in you.

“CHOOSE this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will choose to serve the Lord.”
Josh. 24:15

Together, let’s battle the blues wreaking havoc on our world.

Here’s the song we loved:

And, to listen to the podcast with Michelle Van Loon, go here:

Thanks for reading the blog. May you be blessed today and know how special you are. 🌻

The Gift of Growth During Covid

As I begin this blog post, I am thinking about the ways I have grown during this crazy Covid pandemic and the beautiful growth I have witnessed in people and in creation.

It’s been almost a year since the pandemic infiltrated our country and our communities. A year ago, no one used the word “Covid” unless you were, perhaps, a doctor and used that word in a chart documenting a strain of the common cold.

I recently stayed with my Aunt Harriet, in Denver, as she began recovery from ankle surgery.

We discussed that COVID-19 is much different. It has infected people, our livelihood and, for many, it has been deadly. We are in the middle of making history and hopefully will be on the other side of this horrible plague soon.

Aunt Harriet and I talked about the beginning of the pandemic and how we all sort of enjoyed staying home and cleaned out every drawer, pantry, nook and cranny. We productively re-organized our homes and lives.

I remember walking through our neighborhood and seeing almost every garage door up. Neighbors smiled and waved as they threw out clutter.

We all thought this pandemic would be “over” in a couple of months. I also remember being extremely concerned. We needed to get our youngest daughter, Cambri, home from Los Angeles. Things felt a bit safer in Tulsa and we wanted to get her home as, at the time, we were not experiencing as many cases as Los Angeles.

Cambri drove to meet me in Phoenix. I flew one way, on one of the last flights out of Tulsa, (thank you Southwest) to meet her there. We would make the rest of the drive back to Tulsa together.

One thing that has grown inside of me, during this pandemic, is the ability to hear the voice of God. Not audibly but, deep in my spirit. I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me now more than ever before.

I knew that I would be all right, on that airplane, and that we would make it back home safely. I felt an overwhelming sense of trust and gratefulness as I walked through an empty airport and boarded an airplane with just two other passengers. It was one of the strangest experiences I have ever been through…yet I felt His assurance.

This Southwest plane was virtually empty. I was one of three passengers. It was wonderful to talk with these two stewardesses who were strong Christian women.

In my life, God always has spoken to me through other people, His people, in the body of Christ. I certainly saw growth in this area escalating all through the pandemic as believers became even more outspoken about their faith.

I know I grew, personally, in this area as I believed the one thing I could offer, in the mist of fear and uncertainty, was positivity.

Cambri and I ended up staying in Carefree, Arizona for eight days. Covid-19 cases began to grow in Tulsa and Arizona was more open at that time so we stayed. Our almost empty timeshare property offered the ability to soak up the sun in a very special patch of green grass.

Cibola Vista will forever hold a special place in my heart as, there, we were surrounded by bright, vibrant flowers, sunshine and a very special horse stable across the street.

Snow and her little one, Arizona.

As Covid days lingered on, noticed the beauty of creation even more. I’ve spoken with others who have shared that they too, paid attention to things they never would have without the pandemic.

Sunrises and sunsets became topics of conversation. Flowers blooming and birds singing blessed my heart.

Seeing those horses simply living was comforting.

My husband Gordy and I returned to Cibola Vista about 10 months after Covid began.

What a joy it was to see little Arizona all grown up. He was strong, frolicked about and carried his head held high.

Covid has left so many discouraged, disheartened, depressed. Some we know, have lost a family member and the death toll rises.

Little Arizona reminded me, to hold my head up, and to keep living and trusting. As I witnessed his growth, I felt encouraged.

I have grown in many ways over this past year. I have found myself slowing down, taking the time to go deeper in many ways.

I have grown closer to many, many people that I love and for that I am thankful. I’ve learned to really let go of little things that don’t matter. I’ve learned that the days and nights are much better when I give them over to the Lord and to trust Him along the way.

My love of art and painting has grown and I’ve gained confidence to paint larger pieces. I treasure hearing the Lord speak to me, even just a while back, telling me to just paint for pleasure and to encourage those who like my work to donate to a charity instead of pay me. That was definitely His idea and it will be fun to see whom I can bless as He continues to whisper me along.

Our home in Broken Arrow.
A painting for a friend.
They donated to First Tee.

I’ve realized that Covid has allowed me to grow deeper and some purposes I already have. One of them is working in the therapy dog world. I have served for several years with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.

During Covid, I decided to grow deeper in this area as well and became an area tester. Now, I am helping certify other people who would love to serve with their dogs to bless others. This growth has been especially rewarding.

As I wrap this blog up, I’m thankful for growth and I’m prayerful. Many family friends are Covid positive and continue to battle on.

It’s my goal to stay positive, to remain encouraging and helpful and to continue to grow, spiritually, physically, and mentally.

Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

For me, meaningful growth has come from enjoying, noticing and doing small things with love and a joyful heart.

I encourage you to seek growth opportunities that are both around you and also within you.

John Maxwell said “If we are growing, we always are going to be out of our comfort zone.” Let’s live there and continue to grow each and every day.

2021 – A New Year, Passions & Purpose

A New Year is a wonderful time to begin many things and return to things you love. I’m returning to this blog, the first blog entry in a while.

2020 was full of many things but mainly Covid, cautions that come with an unprecedented pandemic and, for me and many others last year, many things seemed to stand still.

I learned at the end of last year, after much time to ponder, that much of what I feel led to do begins with the letter P.

Peace, Prayer, People, a Podcast, Painting & Puppies.

I clung tight to prayer & my faith and certainly tried to keep the peace in 2020…and stay positive (another great P word). Being in the midst of this continuing, strange pandemic is just awful.

As I write today, it’s hitting closer to home as we have lost some we know and love. Our thoughts are with many who are mourning those they love and others who are fighting on.

I will forever remember going to Arizona in the beginning of Covid last year to meet our youngest daughter who needed to get out of Los Angeles. The pandemic swept through there in a fury and shut LA down before it hit other parts of the country. It’s still shut down and I admire our daughter as she maintains positivity and pursues her education, still out there, online.

In 2020, Cambri and I stayed in the Scottsdale area for eight days. Flying to and from Tulsa was so strange as hardly anyone was on the airplanes.

So many planes were grounded and I realized then that so much of what I love to do in life was grounded as well. A lot of my passions were grounded. The days all ran together and malaise and heaviness was everywhere. It still is as Covid lingers.

Thankfully, devotional readings and staying grounded in the word kept (and still keep) hope alive for me. I realize that desperate times to call for desperate measures and positivity. I want to be an ambassador of joy and peace and hope in the midst of the pandemic and always.

I read of others in the Bible who continued to press on knowing that the Lord was using them to be a positive influence. People like Esther, Paul, and all of the disciples knew their purposes and, despite hardships, pressed on with their passions. Mainly, the passion of Christ.

Christ is my number one passion too (a great P word) and secondly my family. My friends and the hobbies and things I love follow behind.

Last year, as I found myself home more, digging into the word and praying I did become encouraged. This time led me to have a new love in a different way for the passions I have enjoyed for a long time. I am painting more and learned of a way to use that gift to bless others by painting for “causes”. Now, I paint and share my gifts. Those who commission me donate to a charity. My podcast, Empty Nest Guests was born and has been such a blessing, offering hope to others in the encore years. I have learned so much from some amazing people.

Find this podcast on Spotify, Podcasts and other platforms. Thanks for listening! 🌻

Much was put on hold for me in the “puppies” world with my therapy dog work but, we got a new puppy, named Pearl and she has taught us so much.

I mainly have learned patience (a great and hard P word) and what childlike faith looks like through her playful offerings snd stubborn spirit…so reminiscent of my own early walk as a Christian.

As I watched our puppy grow and mature and learn from working with me and my husband several times a day, I have certainly seen the value of discipline and the rewards of training. Isn’t that true in our own lives?

I laid this blog down for a while last year which gave birth to other purposes and passions. I decided it was time to pick it back up though and will use this venue to summarize notes from others who have been such a blessing on the podcast. One thing I know for sure is I have been blessed tremendously from others during this time.

I appreciate you following this blog and hope that this coming year will be a blessing for you and yours. I hope to share some things I’ve learned from some really great people and wish you a healthy and hopeful 2021.

As you ponder a new year, a new word or phrase perhaps, may the Lord reveal your purposes to you.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matth. 7:7

I believe the Lord is desiring for all of us to ask Him what we are to do during these very strange days. Lean in to Him, ponder your purposes and embrace your passions and the people around you.

Stay tuned here, on this blog, for encouragement each month from others, who’ve appeared on Empty Nest Guests. I look so forward to sharing their wisdom with you!

Until then, enjoy this great advice from my favorite coffee mug of the moment:”God is using you to SHINE His love, SHARE his love & to SHAPE His people.

“God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times having all that you need you will abound in every good word.” 2 Corinth. 9:8

Here’s to 2021 and finding purpose, passions and learning from great people.

Happy 2021 from my family to yours.
Stay healthy & hopeful!

Lessons Learned from St. Patrick

I’m so grateful a friend wished me happy St. Patrick’s Day. The day might’ve just slipped right on by as I continue to flip back-and-forth between news channels learning about hourly updates regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Inspired by my friend’s text, (thanks Joan) I found a few readings about the life of Saint Patrick and especially appreciate a blog by Kelsey McCain from 2019. Here’s what we can learn from this great saint:


Forgiveness


McCain reminds us that St. Patrick was an English priest who, after being kidnapped at age 16, was held as a slave in Ireland, escaped home to England only to hear God calling him to go back and share the gospel with his former captors. He didn’t just forgive his captors, he prayed for them, chose to love them And saw them as brothers and sisters in Christ who needed to hear about Jesus. Today, Let’s forgive someone.


Perseverance & Faith


Saint Patrick spent most of his life persevering. As a young slave, he held onto the hope and promise of Christ. After he escaped, he chose to return to Ireland to share Christ with his captors. St. Patrick said: “Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity but I fear none of these things because of the promise of heaven.” May we not give in to fear. We, too, have the promise of heaven. Today, may we persevere & have faith.

Calling Over Comfort


Despite his calling, backed by even a heavenly vision from the Lord, St. Patrick was insecure because of his education level. He was self conscious and said “ I am unable to explain my mind to learned people.” Yet, choosing calling over comfort, St. Patrick obeyed God and started one of the largest church multiplication movements in history. Where God calls you, He will equip you. During these uncertain pandemic days, ask the Lord, “what’s my calling?” We have more opportunities to “Be still and know.” (Psalm 46:10) He will tell you as you lean in to hear His voice. Today, may we choose calling over comfort.


We’re Better Together


Rather than “go it alone” getting overwhelmed and exhausted by work, Saint Patrick chose to travel in a team and relied on others. He knew that having an extra support system was imperative to his mission. We all need a team. During this difficult time in history, family, friends, neighbors & community keep us connected. For those living alone, connectivity is critical. During this period of “social distancing,” we can encourage through texts, phone calls and FaceTime. We can take groceries to those who need them, drop off supplies and share what we have. We can pray for Team USA and all our leaders (in our own country and throughout the world). We can pray for those on the front lines, those sick and infected. We can encourage the faithless with our friendship and faith. We’re all in this together. Today, may we connect and support each other.

Yes You Can


The story of Saint Patrick is a blessing for all of us. May his life be a reminder for us to forgive others, to persevere and choose calling over comfort and support others well.
Today, we can make a difference, right where we are. Just like Saint Patrick, we live in uncertain times. The only thing certain is the promise of eternity for those who believe. May we cling to the words of St. Patrick as we honor his life and ministry today: “…I fear none of these things because of the promise of heaven.”


“…but perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18

Ponder Your Purpose, Decree Your Desire


For this month’s blog I consulted some notes I compiled a few months ago from women younger than me. I had asked this question: “What would you like to read about in my blog?”

One of my friends said “I would love your thoughts on trying to be deliberate and living God’s plan, not living in fear, planning for the future but cherishing the day, being a devoted wife while trying not to exhaust myself in motherhood.” She then added, “I’d also like help with being a supportive wife and mother while still trying to develop the skills and gifts God has given me.”

Another dear, younger friend said, “I hit 40 last March and feel that I’m pondering different issues than five years ago for sure. I’m at a sweet spot with my kids as they are independent yet love hanging out with family as well as friends. I feel like I’m entering a new stage where I’m considering possibly goingback to work.  I’d enjoy reading about purpose and making an impact at whatever stage you are in. How can I be my best self at this stage in life?”

It was so timely that I found these notes and requests as, just earlier this week, I enjoyed some precious time with my mentor, Shirley Staires. She’s 84 years young and is one of the wisest, most insightful and wonderful Christian women I know. (Some of you may know her as “Sally Mulready’s mom” or “Kelly Gibson’s mom.” Their Brothers are Mike and Clay Staires. This family is very dear to me.)

Shirley and I enjoyed talking about many things including the new year and purpose. I shared with Shirley that I had been given a word for the year, one I felt the Lord wanted me to work on: gentleness. (I’ve been enjoying studying Courageous Gentleness – Following Christ’s Example of Restrained Strengthby Mary Ann Froehlich and will write more about that in the next month.) As always, Shirley inspired me. She shared that not only did she have a word for the new year, she also had “decree.” 

I leaned in to hear more.

Dictionary.com defines decree as: “A formal andauthoritative order, especially one having the force of law: a presidential decree. Law. A judicial decision of order. Theology. One of the internal purposes of God, by which events are foreordained.”

Shirley said you can have a word or a mission statement for the year but, until you “decree it,” you have no power. She said “what you speak is what you become” and led me to Job 22:28. “If you decrease something it will stand, and light will shine on your ways.”

Shirley shared that her word is “more…abundantly more.” She then explained how she is decreeing this, claiming that “more” will happen in her life by knowing scriptures where God has promised “more.” 2 Peter 1:2 says “May you have more and more grace and peace through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.” Then, with a smile, she added, “If God says it, I believe it.” 

​She shared a wonderful message with me from Christian author, speaker and teacher, Dutch Sheets, from January 3, 2019 entitled “Starting the Year Off Right.” In that message he shares that God said, “Let there be light” in Genesis 1:30. He “decreed” creation…he spoke it, and us into existence. God spoke to storms and stars, mountains, mankind and more. He speaks to us today. Luke 1:37 says “For no word spoken by God is without power.” Sheets explains that the “word of the lord (a decree) will produce the will of the Lord through the power of the Lord.” Isa. 55:11 says “So…my word that goes forth from my mouth; it does not return to me empty…it does what I want and accomplishes what I intend.” 

As for me “decreeing” gentleness, this scripture is helpful: “Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble…and you will find rest for yourselves.”

Matthew 11:29. For me to be gentler, I deliberately will have to put on Jesus (His yoke) and learn from Him. 

Like my younger friends, I, too, desire to have purpose, make an impact, to be intentional and live in God’s will. I do agree with Shirley. A key to fulfilling our purpose in Christ is to “decree what we desire.” As I desire more gentleness I can decree that I am gentle – in Christ. As Shirley desires abundantly more, she will decree that she is and has more – in Christ. 

I used to joke long ago with our three children that if you go to Sunday school and don’t know the answer, you can always say “Jesus.” He really is the answer to most things. He decreed who He is. He said “I am the way, the truth & the life.” John 14:6. 

Jesus not only had a mission, a purpose and plan; he decreed his very life. He was and IS the plan for mankind. He is the way. 

Each year, as I pray about my word for the year, sometimes I think about it in December during the busy holiday time. This year, I spent the entire month of January praying about what God wanted…His word for me.

If you haven’t done this, it’s not too late. February is the month we celebrate love. God loves you so much and made you for a unique and special purpose. He’d love to give you a word and something to decree…a special valentine from Him. 

The word, mission or purpose he will have for you to decree will look different than a spouse, good friend or relative. It will be unique to and for you.

Before the year begins to get away from you, I encourage you to give yourself a valentine. Spend some time, in a quiet space or place, asking the Lord what he has for you. It may take more than just 30 minutes of listening. Consider actively listening, along the way. Jesus accomplished much along His way. 

I encourage you to create more moments of silence. Turn the TV off; abstain from social media and technology for a while. Forgo a favorite TV or Netflix show and enjoy asking the Lord what He has for you regarding a word or theme for the year. He can’t wait to unveil it. He promises us: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9 

I hear more from the Lord when I get out of my own way. When I am seeking and knocking, waiting for the Lord to reply, I find what I’m looking for. So far, in this new year, I’m catching glimpses of gentleness and that has brought such joy. 

Coming up with a word for the year or even a full-blown mission statement is a wonderful tool to assist you in making many decisions regarding your coming year and your ministry…wherever you are. It can help you be deliberate and have purpose in each day no matter what stage and phase. 

What has God called you to do for Him, right now, in this season of your life? Seek and discover words that best describe you and your heart’s desire. This will take some time and thought.

I found some of Shirley‘s notes from one of the classes I took from her called Defining Your Mission and Mission Statement. She suggests you ask yourself these questions:

1. What excites or angers you?

2. If you could teach three things that excite you what would they be?

3. What do you love doing?

4. How do you see yourself in training and training others to establish the kingdom of God?

5. How do you want to contribute to the better way of life for others?

Habakkuk 2:2 says this: “Write down the vision (mission) and make it plain on tablets…” Writing it down is a way to decreesomething.

The mission statement I came up with in her class in January 2008 holds true for my life now:“To abide in Him, brighten where dim, enlighten and love family others & friends.” 

For me, abiding is key. IF I abide in Him, I will brighten enlighten and love well. When I wander off or get in my own way, due to my sin nature, I find myself being the opposite of gentle. 

As I think of you young friends who might be reading this blog, I encourage you to give yourself permission to have some alone time (a day or two without children underfoot if possible) to “ponder your purpose” and “decree your desire.” You may have to arise early, (or stay up late) and ask the Lord “what do YOU want for me?”

Shirley encourages us to catch the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit…to literally go with the flow. We are “called to freedom”(Gal. 5:1) and there is nothing more freeing than knowing Whose you are and who you are in Christ. If you know this, the rest falls into place.

Remember, YOU are the messenger of the creative decree of the Lord that can bring forth the promises of God. This IS the year to decree that all hurts and hardships, illnesses and disappointments will be turned into blessings. Our decrees can plow through weeds and make a way. 

May 2020 be an insightful year for you…full of favor and blessings. As you go through this process, may you remember, believe and decree that you ARE fearfully and wonderfully made for a unique purpose and mission. 

For more information about creating your mission statement, please contact me. I have a lesson from Shirley’s wonderful teaching I’d be happy to e-mail you. 

chargordy@cox.net

To hear or learn more about Dutch Sheets, go to: https://dutchsheets.org/

Equipped & Shipped

If this seems like a funny title, it is to me too. As I’ve shared, I am going to add to the blog when the Lord prompts me to do so. This title kept popping in my head the last two days. “Hmmm, equipped and shipped? Lord, what do you mean?” I asked as I kept hearing this phrase.

My immediate family (husband, Gordy, our three kids and our new son-in-law) all just spent some special time together in Colorado. Our oldest daughter, Kate, graduated with her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Denver Seminary (Yay Kate!) and we all were together to celebrate her graduation.

We spent a few days in Beaver Creek, CO with the younger kids before heading to Denver for the ceremony. While there, my accountability partner, Linda, sent me a wonderful text with this photo of a full bird’s nest, crammed packed with young birds she had seen from a friend.

I’ve been reminded lately of the many, many years of our own full nest and the bustling, busy days and nights spent caring for our young children. In the early years, their every single need was met by our caretaking…feeding, changing diapers, providing comfort, warmth, bath times, nap times and more. Lots of time equipping them – readying them for the next stages for when their own wings were ready and they were strong enough to fly.

I was reminded that we equip as we have been equipped. Thankfully, my husband and I had wonderful mentors in our own parents. They taught us well and passed down many important life lessons. We learned from some success stories and also from some shortcomings and even failures. Other mentors and good friends, with their own full nests, helped us learn how to further equip our children both in the stages they were in and in the preparatory phases before they “shipped out” and flew off to young adult hood.

Young children want to follow something and learn to trust their caretakers (sadly, or not.) They watch how we adults do life. God made us as their parents to be an extension of Him. It’s a tough, tiring and rewarding job I reminded myself as I imagined the mother and father bird, flying to and from the nest, providing for the young birds.

Now that our nest is empty, we have “equipped and shipped.” Our young ones have learned to fly on and they have landed in three different states, Denver (then Alaska) for our married daughter and son-in-law, Memphis for our son and Los Angeles for our youngest.

We have failed miserably in some “equipping” attempts and did our best in other areas. We were able to talk about this for a bit in Colorado, when we opened a time capsule we made years ago…just a little storage box of newspapers and trinkets, letters and keepsakes. Included were letters we, the grandparents and great grandparents, had written to our young children.

We all shared (in our own ways and phrases) that having our own faith and listening to the Lord were the best “equipping” tools. As we talked about this, I felt led to share with the kids, as they gathered around the time capsule box, that if you don’t feel like you are hearing from the Holy Spirit, to remember to ask Him to help you do so. The very best “equipping” comes from hearing from God.

If this phase of life for you, as an empty nester, feels “quiet” or without direction, lean in to the Lord a bit harder and more often. Ask God to show up for you. He will. Talk to Him throughout your day. Ask Him to equip you for what’s next.

Just this morning we experienced terrible storms in the Tulsa area. My husband, dog and I spent our coffee time in our storm shelter. I thought of the Christian song “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” by Scott Krippayne. A line in it says, “sometimes He calms the storm, other times He calms the child.”

God equips us in many ways doesn’t He? Sometimes the storm rages and He steps in. Other times, He equips US to stay strong in the midst of difficult stages and phases – like storms, uncertain weather, tornadoes even, like a day when we really miss our children or when we care for aging parents, or face our own health ailments.

Our heavenly father has equipped us through His word, devotional books, inspirational blogs, music, through friends and family and more. Tap in to what will equip you to serve Him well and fulfill the purpose He has for you each day.

As I sip my coffee and watch the weather updates, I am not certain about many things. Will the bad weather continue? Are our kids really okay “out there” on their own? What does the day bring? What does this month, this year hold?

Life is full of uncertainties. It was for the disciples too. Jesus gave them two main “to do’s” – “Love God and love others.” It’s not easy but if we can lean in to that He will show us the way.

Hebrews 13:21 says: “May He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him.” That is my prayer for our children and us as we all continue to spread our own wings and “ship out” to new adventures and purposes.

Happy New Year! Stay With God…

Happy New Year!

Stay with God…

One afternoon during the Christmas break, I worked out and listened to a wonderful podcast from Ransomed Heart Ministries entitled Christmas Blessings. Allen Arnold shared this simple verse: Psalm 27:14 – “Stay with God. Take heart. Don’t quit.” (MSG version)

As I contemplated that verse over and over while on the rowing machine, I decided to adopt “stay with God” as my motto for 2020. A new year brings with it all kinds of opportunities. Blank white squares on calendars, empty journal pages and stocking-stuffer pens, full of ink, beckon us to write out plans, to do’s and chart our courses.

What if, during whatever comes our way in 2020, we simply remembered to stay with God?

As with many of David’s psalms it is unknown which period of his life Psalm 27 comes from. It speaks of vast trouble from various sources. King David had years of anguish and many, many years of favor.

He was a man after God’s own heart. He learned, through trials and tribulations, that only when he stayed with God was his soul at rest.

The best times in my own life are when I have stayed with God – even when I felt like giving up.

There’s a familiar saying that says this: “If you feel you are far from God, it wasn’t Him who moved.” He never does. He’s here for us. He often carries us. He’s eager to be with us…sometimes holding our hand, sometimes encircling us and our circumstances with His whole being and often by offering a gentle whisper.

When I stay with God, I see Him more. I see God in nature, in ducks, geese and a swan on a pond and in the sunrises that wake them. I see God’s order in the tiny lives in our new little aquarium bowl. I hear God in the encouragement of family and friends, in pastors and podcasts, praise songs and in the Bible.

When I stay with God on the golf course, I learn more from my mistakes. I try again and I see I still have a long way to go as I work on patience and the desire for perfection. When I stay (with God) as I play, I also have more fun. My score doesn’t define me; my attitude and character does.

It shouldn’t be hard to stay with God…but it can be. When I let my feelings overshadow my focus, I can get tripped up. When HALT happens…

When I am:

Hungry

Angry

Lonely or

Tired

I get in my own way. I drift when I’m down and stray when I’m frustrated.

Spending too much time on social media can cause me to not stay with God. I hear voices that say, “you’re not included, not good enough, not invited, not important” and other untrue lies. When I stay with God, my focus is clearer. I celebrate friendships, good news shared and help those in need. When I stay, I hear Him lead me to encourage others, to include, invite, affirm and edify. When I stay with God, His approval matters most. When I stay, I don’t stray from the purposes He calls me to each day. It’s easier to follow His lead.

When Gordy and I attended the Ransomed Heart retreat in Colorado Springs in November, we learned the “power of the pause.” Having a morning and afternoon one-minute pause causes me to really stay with God, completely focused in that 60-second time-frame. It’s been life-changing and also calming.

As I stay with Him, especially during that minute, I listen for His lead. I surrender all people & problems and take some deep breaths. I smile and I’m thankful.

I’m excited for this new year. I have a couple of books to write, people to love and places to serve.

I’m grateful for the encouragement from many and the wisdom of countless others who “paved the way of the stay.”

Here’s to you and yours this coming year. Stay with God. Take heart. Don’t quit.

Thanks for reading this blog: may it encourage you. Please be praying for the “purposes” Gordy and I are involved in and pray we “stay” well where God wants us.