Posted in Ann Voskamp, anxious, authors, body, comfort, compassion, cross, cry, Emotional, fear, God, health, heart, Holy Spirit, insecurity, Jesus, love, mind, pain, passion, people, Physical, Prayer, restore, sad, scripture, secure, spirit, Spiritual, trust, woman, worry

Inside My Aching Heart

An ear infection lead me to the urgent care before we left for vacation. My blood pressure was alarmingly high. The urgent care sent a report to my primary care, and she messaged me while on our 2-week vacation to take my blood pressure the next few days, and send her the readings. Still high and some chest discomfort soon after our multi-state road trip, I was in the doctor’s office when I got back to reality. Referred to a cardiologist and more testing, we discovered I have an arrthymtic heart condition. I have premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) that cause echo beats. This Friday I meet with my doctor to discuss what I need to do to take care of my physical heart besides take a beta blocker and lose weight. Questions flood my brain … How did I acquire this condition? When will I feel myself again? Can I return to speed walking as that helps in my weight loss efforts? How long has this arrhythmia been going on? I know I have not felt myself in a long while. I am tired much of the time. Not sleeping well most nights. I have become anxious with my relationships and social settings. I thought that was because of the COVID social distancing for too many days. This learnt introvert does not trust people easily. Trauma does powerful things to one’s mind, body, and soul. I cannot take anxiety meds, as they upset my digestive system so bad, and that causes more anxiety as I worry if I will find a bathroom in time when I go out. I am an insecure woman right now who doesn’t feel or even know if I am loved by those I have been close to over the years. I feel out of rhythm and vulnerable. The ironic thing is my physical heart is going through the same, out of sync and aching. Which came first, my aching physical heart, my stifled emotional heart, or my parched spiritual heart?

I suppose it doesn’t matter which was first. God wants to restore all three. Where do I start? My foundations, the Word of God and prayer. I recall Holy Scriptures that says I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”. In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” King David’s prayer wells inside me into a song … “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in me. Cast me not away from thy presence, take not thy Holy Spirit from me, and restore onto me the joy of thy salvation, and renew a right spirit in me.” Psalm 51: 10 -12. I cannot hide from this truth nor the truth inside myself. The truth is I feel unsteady, insecure and timid right now in life. I do not know how long I will feel this way. With God’s help I will come out of this. I need to get my spiritual heart right first.

Author Ann Voskamp so eloquently writes . . .These days feel like a flood of heartache . . . And there’s not one moment God doesn’t feel that with us. “His heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6). God has a heart . . . and it hurts. It hurts with what hurts us. His heart hurts not just with a few drops of ache, not just with a slow drip of sadness—the whole expanse of His heart fills, swells, weighs dark with this storm of pain. God, who hung the stars—He has taken a thread of His heart and tied it to yours. And He didn’t need to, but God tied His heart to yours — so when you feel pain, He fills with pain. Time only continues on in this impossibly suffering world because God Himself is willing to keep suffering the impossible with us. We read the headlines and wonder, lay in our own beds way too late at night & soundlessly cry: If there’s a God who really cares, He’d look at this world and His heart would break. And God looks to the Cross, and says, “My heart did. ”On that Cross, they speared His side and pierced straight into His heart, filled with pain, and it was the water and blood of His broken heart that gushed right out, a flood of love. Grace—it, too, has floods of its own. . . . The way heaven comes down so we can rise. In a world of grief beyond magnitude, what will change us and the world, is the attitude of Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” In a world that doesn’t feel fair — His cruciform love and outstretched arms embrace us — so what we feel is Him. No one knows more than Jesus that this world isn’t fair — and no one loves us to death like Jesus, until everything is fair for forever. In a world of loss — the deeply suffering are deeply touched by the suffering of Christ. We do not weep alone. No matter what happens in this busted-up world in the days ahead, in your own beautiful world: Pray. He listens & He holds. “When you call on Me, when you come & pray to Me, I’ll listen…I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady” Jeremiah 29:12, Isaiah 41:10MSG #TheBrokenWay#WeepingTogether

The physical and emotional heart healings will come . . .

Posted in anger, battle, body, brother, change, children, choice, courage, creative, death, differences, divorce, Family, fight, God, husband, job, man, mend, neighbor, peace, people, quote, rain, redeemer, sacred, scripture, secure, sister, strife, trust, water, wisdom, woman, words

A Boundary Needed and A Barrier Taken Down

I recently used the word “boundary” in the family text chain to address the political hot topic taking place that crossed the guidelines of what we all previously agreed on, at least that is what I thought.  In my husband’s family they are very polarized in their political views.  You are either Republican or Democrat, no in between.  I beg your pardon, but I am not a party voter; I am an issues voter.  We all agreed to not discuss politics on this text chain as it always produces heated conversation and disrespectful words. On January 6, the day the protest turned to a deadly riot at the nation’s capital building, a few of the Democrats hollered with their disrespectful words at the Republicans on this family chat.  It was sad to make it such a personal matter. With an attempt to stop the bickering, I simply wrote a text “I thought we agreed not to go here.”  More disrespect proceeded. After a rapid-fire chain of more angry texts, I finally ended the heated words with “Family, the word is called ‘boundaries’ and you crossed them.” You could hear crickets after that, or least on this text chain.  Who knows what words were said in their homes and on their other emotional outlets such as Facebook and Twitter? My brother said the same of the Peace & Justice committee at church.  The Democrats and Republicans sparred during their recent virtual committee meeting to the point that the pastor had to stop it with, “Is this not what this group is against? Peace, brothers and sisters, peace!”

Boundaries abide in our lives in various forms.  And they are here to stay.  It is how God designed His people and His earth.  Look at nature and the natural boundaries of a river.  The riverbank keeps the river water flowing inside its natural boundary walls. During the spring thaw with the snow melts and rainstorms, flooding can occur.  Man-made are the houses and buildings built in the flood zones.  There is a sign standing in a farmer’s field going north on the Mississippi River road, Highway 79 that says “They call it a floodplain ‘cause it is plain to see it floods here! Remember the flood of ’93?”  Still, more construction continues in the floodplains.

To some people, the word “boundary” conveys restrictions and rules that bind.  While others make it their life’s mission to cross boundaries as a statement “you can’t tell me what to do!”  Look at how many lawless criminals we have in our justice systems or need to be.  The pervert who violates the boundaries by touching a child relative or neighbor inappropriately or the boss who stands over his female assistant gawking and intimidates her by invading her space with his words and leering.  The taxpayer who cheats on their tax filing crossed a boundary. I believe in finding and taking advantage of loopholes but be honest, so we all benefit from the taxes you paid.

Another portion of people think “oh, I’ll do this just this one time, I won’t get caught”.  But then it becomes a pattern and eventually a habit they are sucked into.  One too many youths and adults have tried cocaine just once, only to crave more of it.  Others dabble with an illicit relationship.  “Once a cheat, always a cheat” is what society will say about the unfaithful spouse.  Can you trust him again?  Other folks do not mean to a cross a boundary but do so out of ignorance or immaturity.  Ever hear of the saying “being at the wrong place at the wrong time” or “being with the wrong person at the wrong time”?  Immaturity may result in a job termination, injury, death, court hearing, jail time, ruined reputation, divorce, or a damaged relationship.   Unless you choose to learn from your mistake, a pattern of mistrust in oneself or in relationships may result.

For those who will say “rules are meant to be broken,” there is a degree of truth to that statement.  For those who say this, I can say “yes”, sometimes.  When a rule infringes on the rights of another based on a discrimination or prejudice, we need to evaluate and make the circumstance a fair game for all.  When a boss micromanages or a workplace with too many rules stifling creativity or worse mistreats an employee or a segment of employees, the employee(s) can speak up for change. Granted we are not always heard, so then there is an opportunity to leave and move on to a better work environment.  Same holds true in our personal relationships.

What does the word “boundary” mean?  And where did the word originate from?  The Oxford dictionary has two definitions.

  1. A line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.
  2. A limit of a subject or sphere of activity.

The origin of the word “boundary” is from the English from the early 1600’s.  This word is a variant of the word “bounder” meaning an outlaw, dishonorable or unscrupulous man.  Maybe more so of “limitary”, setting limits; subject to restrictions.  Its usage in our language increased gradually over the years with a surge between 1960 to 2010.  Maybe something to do with our women’s liberation movement, experimental drugs, free love, and civil rights era?  We had to have a word to describe those braless days, LSD trips, long-haired hippies, religious cults, nudist colonies, and violent protests. Currently, the usage of “boundary” is on a downhill.  I wonder what word in our language replaced “boundary” because boundaries are still needed in 2021? 

For some folks, when the word “boundary” is used, it provides a sense of security and a knowing of what to expect.  Consider the sacred scriptures of several religions: The Old and New Testaments for Christians, the Torah for Jews, the Catechism for Catholics, the Tripitaka for Buddhist, and the Koran for the Muslims. These are filled with wisdom and laws to abide by.  For an example a proverb (23:10 & 11) in the Old Testament says, “Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for strong is their Redeemer who will take up their case against you.” Ancient boundaries protect our children.  This is a positive aspect of a boundary.  But some barriers need to come down.

The promise I hold onto from the New Testament is, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” ~Ephesians 2:14.

Posted in authors, children, death, deed, faith, friend, friends, God, husband, mother, peace, Prayer, scripture, sinful woman, strength, woman, Women in My Life

Bathed In Prayer

My heart has been so heavy these past few weeks.  Thoughts have run through my head over and over.  I could not publicly write about it until today due to finding the words, as well as work and travels. The ramifications of the COVID pandemic are many.  Like a spider web, it’s intertwining in every aspect of our lives.  It is about protecting self and family.  For me it is also about the 4,000 employees I work with as an HR professional.  If COVID wasn’t enough, then the international racial riots in response to a bad police officer’s apparent murder of a black man.  How do you and I deal with all this negative news and multiple lives affected with such hatred?

I remember years ago while I was in distress over the lost of a child due to a miscarriage, an older Christian woman called me to tell me she would bathed me in prayer.  That afternoon I was so tired from blood loss and mourning over the loss of the child I would never know.  My husband then was insensitive to my feelings and said, “Well, you will get over it.  We didn’t really want another child anyways.”  So hurtful to me, but this was how he rationalize the pain of this death.  I slept the remaining day and into the night.  I was able to fall asleep knowing another woman was praying for me.  It was the intentional prayers of another, as well as this person sharing this with me that brought peace to my soul, and eventually rest.  From this I learned to pray fervently and unceasingly for others, as well as for myself.

“All strength that we give away comes over us again, experienced and altered. Thus it is in prayer…” author Rainer Maria Rilke writes.  Strength is what I receive when I pray.  “And what is there, truly done, that is not prayer?” Rilke adds.  I take it that the author speaks of works that coincide with or because of faith and prayer. Holy Scriptures tell us in James 2:14-26 New Living Translation (NLT) “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”

Today our prayers and the works that match those prayers sustain us.  We cannot justify hatred between family members, neighborhoods, co-workers, religions, and races.  Pray.  Pray for the “peace that surpasses understanding.”  Do a good deed towards someone who may be in opposite view as yourself.  If a good deed is not possible right now, then continue to pray.  “Pray without ceasing” until you can.  Bathe yourself and the other person in prayer.

Posted in answer, art, body, bones, challenges, choice, comfort, creative, depression, empty, fabric, feelings, flower, God, health, life, mind, Physical, survival, warm, Warrior, woman, words, write

The Fabrics Of Our Lives

What kind of fabric clothes you?  Is it rich with color?  A neutral tone?  Plush with softness or textured?  Paisley print, plaid, floral print, solid pastel, or solitary bold?  Does the fabric have a fresh, clean smell of spring, or of warmth like winter wool?  Sometimes the fabrics of our lives pick up the stench of offensive stuff, like the burnt smell of overcooked popcorn or a dog rolling on a dead animal.  BTW:  why do dogs do that?  Life brings rotten circumstances that cause us to stop in our tracks and ask “why me?”.  Your emotions and anger seem out-of-control.  Or life leaves us depressed enough not to know what to ask or say.  Just a lump of dry meat stuck in your throat that won’t go down or you cannot throw it up.

I say pick up a pen, pencil, paint brush, chalk, glue stick, or vase.  And get at least one word written on a journal page.  Or that one paint color of choice brushed on the canvas.  Or that one embellishment glued on your choice of media for a collage.  Or that solitary flower added to the vessel of choice.  You do not have to have the whole story together, just one word.  You do not have to have a landscape or portrait finished.  That collage comes together bit by bit as you find another medium to add for expression of your feelings.  The flower vase may be a simply perfect vignette for the eyes with just that one flower you put in it.  Create from your gut.  I suppose they call this art therapy.  I call it survival with color.  Allow the mind to be freed and body feel it down to the bone as you empty yourself.  You may not know all the answers, but your feelings come out in a healthy way and adds color and texture to the fabrics of your life.  Art is another God-given tool as a woman warrior.

Posted in authentic, choice, courage, differences, Emotional, faith, Family, friend, friends, grandparent, happy, job, joy, laugh, life, live, old, peace, sister, strength, woman, Women in My Life

A Bench Mark Weekend

This past weekend was a reunion with three of my high school classmates.  We recalled those days many years ago, and laughed all weekend.  Endless fun, without any men, children, work, alcohol, or drugs.   High on life.  I have had the need to connect to my childhood outside of my family of origin.  So much is a fog, just glimpses of faces and scenarios.  The past class reunions are minus familiar friendly faces. We had about 500 graduates in our class.  So I sought three classmates I am connected to on Facebook, where we seem to share the same interests and connect with our comments on each other’s posts.   I remember well all three.  One friend is an authentic pal from elementary school, another is quite the comedian then and now, and the other illuminates peace to anyone in her surroundings.

We reserved the entire country inn in a small town.  The host and hostess accommodated us well with a bonfire, plenty of bedding options, and a delicious breakfast.  We grabbed lunch first at a unique BBQ diner with a resident pig sleeping in a stall.  After lunch we stopped at a local antique store.  The antiques were as old as us.  We visited Big Spring, a natural spring in the Ozarks of Missouri.  I came across a metal disc right on the cliff ledge near the spring flowing from the Current River.  It said “U.S. Geological Survey Bench Mark”.  According to Wikipedia, “the USGS (United States Geological Survey) was created, by a last-minute amendment, to an act of  Congress on March 3, 1879. It was charged with the ‘classification of the public lands, and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain’. This task was driven by the need to inventory the vast lands added to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Mexican-American War in 1848.”  This bench mark has some kind of significance, probably either a elevation or earthquake marker.  My curiosity will have me research until I know the facts.

Benchmark at Big Spring

I felt like this was a bench mark weekend for me.  I had never done this, invited old childhood friends to gather for an overnight.  We all did not hangout together as a gang in high school, but knew each other.  None of us belonged to cliques.  I felt a bond would form as we came together now.  I have gone on women’s retreats, but this was a different kind of retreat.  This weekend rendezvous confirmed we had so much in common.  Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.  Childhoods and schools in St. Charles County, Missouri.  Troubled love relationships.  Divorce.  Made better choices with age and wisdom.  Faith.  Caretaking.  Deceased parents.  Mourning.  Parenthood.  Grand-mothering.  Jobs.  Thrift.  Hobbies.  Strength.  A confident beauty that a 59-year old woman possesses despite it all.  The differences were fewer.  We share a sisterhood.  The “plump sisters (PS)” vow to meet up again in about 3 or 4 months for another destination, maybe another bench mark weekend.

“Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.”
~ Robin Benway, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June

Posted in fear, flower, friend, God, grace, heart, hurt, people, Prayer, scripture, silence, solitude, thankful, unkind, woman, Women in My Life

Fearless Women

Looking back, how I have changed with each year that passed.   Not just with the added wrinkles, grays, pounds, aches, and pains in the natural aging process, but in each encounter with my God, His people,  and creation.  Our loving God uses every situation and person in our lives to shape us.  At times I have been in solitude, absent of friendships due to illness, death, and the unkindness of others.   There have been good and not so good people throughout my life.  Even in the most difficult and dark times, God was present.  He gave and continues to give me guidance on how to live life more Christ-like despite others.  I trust Him.  There is no secret from Him.  God knows the secrets of my heart and the sins of my life.  I draw on the grace of Jesus Christ with my imperfections as I pour out my heart to Him.  To all women, I encourage you to do the same.  And join a women’s group.  Not just any group but one where you are accepted as a prized rose, and encouraged to grow.  “Other seed fell on good soil.  It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown,” the Bible tells us.  Have open discussions, share holy scriptures and prayers, encourage fearlessness in fearful circumstances, and genuine friendships are planted in the garden.  Avoid weedy worthless gossip, emotional games, and comparisons.  No pretensions, be fully yourself.  This season I have been surrounded by fearless women, and seeds are being planted in good soil.  I am thankful.

 

 

Posted in book, connection, Family, gift, hospitality, love, neighbor, people, purpose, quote, scripture, woman, words

Connecting with Purpose

With our electronics, anyone could go days without speaking face-to-face with another person.  Parents receive a text message from their teenager about the next football tailgate with that adolescent one room away from the parent under the same roof at that place called “home”.  I have been at dinner gatherings where the i-phone is set next to the plate like it is part of the place setting.  And I have been guilty of such!  How about delivering verbal words to your co-worker in person by walking to their office down the hall instead of an email message?  The internet, emails, texts, tweets, and online posts can keep us informed, and there is a time and season for it.  But what about connecting with an oxygen-breathing, heart-feeling human in person?  A connection can happen with a little conscious effort.

Connections can come through family, neighborhoods, work, school, food events, sports, hobbies, art, music, support or social groups.  Colors speak.  Color choices in clothing and home design can display meaning.  I recently read The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell, and she used a self-appointed, self-painted turquoise picnic table planted in her front yard to connect with her neighbors. This Christian woman wanted to share her life with others in a safe venue such as her front yard.  The turquoise table caught the neighbors’ attention.  This idea of hospitality spread to many more neighborhoods and communities, world-wide.  It is a reminiscence of the front porch of yesteryear.

 

The Jenny Joseph poem, Warning, inspired the Red Hat Society founder, Sue Ellen Cooper to give a friend a red hat for her 50th birthday.  The first lines of the poem, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me,” tell us each to grow older in a playful manner on our own terms.  Purple and red are not just for senior women with the Red Hat Society.  Why not make a statement and most likely a connection with the next visitor at your purple front door?  What about a fresh-baked pie left with the next-door neighbor or a water bowl left out near the sidewalk to quench the thirst of those dogs the joggers/walkers bring out on a hot summer day?

However you decide to connect, connect with the purpose to love …

“Love is large and incredibly patient.  Love is gentle and consistently kind to all.  It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.  Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor.  Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.  Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.  Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.  Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.  Love never stops loving … Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (Passion translation).

Posted in book, challenges, comfort, courage, crazy, God, purpose, quote, resilience, thankful, Warrior, woman

Escape

cs lewis cup of tea quoteHow do you escape from this sometimes crazy world?  “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us.  Being thankful is one way to escape from overwhelming thoughts and situations.  You say, “that is a challenge right now”.  I know.  I experienced one of those days today.  But more importantly, woman warrior, what recharges you with more resilience, courage, and purpose?   Is it being nestled under a comfy quilt with a book or the Bible in one hand and a cup of steamy tea in the other?  Is it a brief foray with an art medium or craft you are developing?  Writing or making music?  Is it an afternoon out with a friend, or date night with the hubby?  Or maybe a whole weekend away or at a retreat?  Whatever it is, just get there.  Make it a priority, plan it, and the escape from this crazy life will come.  Go ahead, do it, and giving thanks all the way through … I knew you could.

Posted in authors, book, comfort, Emotional, faith, Financial, forgiveness, God, happy, husband, Mental, pain, patient, Physical, sad, Spiritual, strength, thankful, weep, woman, words, write

Women, Stories, Faith, and Heart Matters

“Women’s stories matter.  They tell us who we are, they give us places to explore our problems, to try on identities and imagine happy endings.  They entertain us, they divert us, they comfort us when we’re lonely or alone.  Women’s stories matter.  And women matter, too.” ~ Jennifer Weiner

I read many literary pieces authored by famous and not so famous women.  Women have many untold stories, happy, and sad ones, too.  There is a time to share those stories, and other times to be quiet.  A time to work through heart matters in solitude.  Inspirational writer Ann Voskamp asks in her book Be The Gift, “Are the most painful tears the kind no one can see, the kind where your soul weeps alone?”  This is where God meets us, holds us, hugs us, comforts, allowing the tears to flow until no more.  Empty oneself of all.  In the midst of physical pain, mental anguish, sudden illness, chronic health conditions, death, wrongful accusations, troubled relationships, mean co-workers, political wars, poverty, domestic violence, or complete exhaustion, faith has to play a part to get through it.

But also, “faith has to be exercised in the midst of ordinary, down-to-earth living,” writes Elisabeth Elliot.  “Faith without works is dead,” the Holy Scriptures tell us.  “Faith is built out of small acts along the path of life,” Maria Shiver shares in her new book, I’ve Been Thinking … Today, what small act strengthened your faith, your belief in God and His creation?  And that creation is you, too.  Was it surrendering your curse words to thankfulness?  Was it a smile shared with that co-worker who loathes your presence?  Was faith exercised in giving your lunch money to the homeless lady sitting on the bench?  How about when you wrote an encouragement letter to that relative estranged from the family?  The tenth time to patiently point out a grammatical error to the simple-minded teen?  Scrubbing the stains off the wall made by careless guests?  Forgiving the thoughtless comment from your husband?  When you forget another appointment, but reschedule and mark it on your calendar this time?  The lists goes on how we exercise faith in others, God, and ourselves.

We women have stories, and faith to make the stories go on about real heart matters. Heart Key Hole

 

 

Posted in battle, depression, faith, Family, God, light, love, man, pain, peace, people, Physical, purpose, quote, Rachel, sacred, Spiritual, thankful, Warrior, woman

I Know This Man … I Know This Woman

I was a guest panelist for the St. Louis American Heart Association’s Workplace Wellness Solutions Forum this week.  What a wonderful experience to share the budget strategies I have incorporated in the wellness program at my workplace with other human resources and wellness professionals.  Our keynote speaker, Aaron Hunnel brought his message of perspective, positivity, passion, and purpose.  This humble young man has accomplished much in his young years. An American veteran who served two tours overseas, overcame addiction, has literally climbed several huge mountains, ran an Ironman Marathon with a disabled young woman as his partner, author of the book Upwards, and a successful business owner.  His keynote message “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” moved many to tears.  I sobbed.  His authentic message reached home in my heart.

You see I know this woman who has a beautiful soul. She seeks the good in everyone she meets. She loves unceasingly, full of “thank yous”, and affectionate hugs. “See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see,” Kirk Weisler is quoted, and this is what this woman lives.  And the courage she possesses is like no other I know.  This woman has not one but multiple disabling medical conditions. This woman is Rachel, my oldest daughter.  I am so proud of the character she has and is.  An “all abilities” woman.  The battles she has fought and continues to fight are extreme pain with advanced degenerative disc disease and arachnoiditis.  Depression, self-pity, “why me”s, “why now”, purposelessness, faithlessness, hopelessness Rachel has fought against too.  And this woman warrior has won!  Her faith in God has saved her time and time again, and will continue to sustain her.  Rachel gives love to family, friends, and strangers because she knows she was created for such as this.  Love is sacred, love shared, no holding back.