Monday, May 30, 2011

Shut Up!

In the princess Diaries with Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews there is a piece of dialog that goes something like this:

Queen Renaldi: You are a princess of Genovia.
Mia: Me, a princess? (Screams) SHUT UP!
Queen Renaldi: I beg your pardon, “Shut up”?
Consulate matre’D: Oh, your majesty, in America, it doesn’t always mean to be quiet. Here it could mean “Wow, gee whiz, golly wolly”…

The title of this blog is “Shut up!” and I am not talking about the kind going on in the conversation above.

I really mean, Shut Up! As in: close your trap, be quiet, hush up, shut yo mouth dog (PC…how was that?), zip your lip, button it up, nip it, put a cork in it, enough already, fermer la bouche etc.

Do you realize how much power your words hold? Do you realize there is the power of life and death, in the tongue?

Your words can be used to build someone up…or tear someone down.

It wasn’t long ago that God started dealing with me on closing my mouth. I would say the past three years I have been fairly successful at this mandate.

I have met so many women who have problems “shutting up” and thinking about things before spewing the first thing that comes to mind, especially around our husbands. And our excuse for this is “He’s my husband, I should be able to speak my mind. He’ll love me anyway.”

Do yourself a favor. Do not respond. Think. Ask yourself. Am I being emotional? Am I expecting too much? Consider your response before you respond. Consider your heart. Matthew 12:34 reads, “…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Ponder these things, then speak without strong emotion and rashness. Your words will have a greater impact.

Two Christmas’ ago, when my brother called to tell me that he was no longer going to be spending a few days with our family as was planned, and was going to stop for a short visit because he made other plans, I didn’t say anything. I had made plans, took off work etc. and instead of “reacting” I chose to be quiet. He hung up on me and I haven’t heard from him since. While shutting my mouth has gotten me in trouble on occasion, opening my mouth and letting my first reaction control my tongue has gotten me in a lot more trouble over the years.

When we choose to use our tongue to lie, gossip, slander, belittle, shame, put down, abuse, deceive, trick etc., we chose to reach into a person’s chest and cut a little piece of their heart out. We leave them bleeding and dying. We leave them lying on the butcher block fully exposed for the next attack, open and vulnerable.

I have been lied to, gossiped about, belittled, shamed, abused and deceived. It hurt. I can still remember words from years past, whether intentional or unintentional it matters not, that still hurt me to the core.

When we choose to build up, exhort, encourage, bless, honor, praise, be kind, be considerate, speak truth to someone, we choose to love. Not sloppy agoppy (agape) love (love that only wants to make people feel good), as my pastor put it last week in Bible study. But, a real agape love that chooses truth because of our desire to see mankind have a true relationship with Christ, and see the Christ in us.

Ephesians 4:29 states this: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Proverbs 21:23 “Who ever keeps his mouth and his tongue, keeps himself out of trouble.”

I have had to apologize for words spoken. I came to the point that I realized the only way to keep myself out of that humbling place, was to control what I said in the first place.

How about you? Have you been the recipient of unkind words? Has your tongue got you into trouble? Leave a comment and I’ll draw a name to win a copy of the message I gave to a group of women entitled, “Pleasant, and Full of Grace.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

He Was Born That Way!!!

My son was about 6 years old and we were watching Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry. I love me some James Bond! Action…a hero that never dies…a good looking bad boy that most women, at some point in their lives, are attracted to. I mean…he’s got it all…right?

Well, about a third of the way through the movie there is a scene where Halle Berry comes up out of the ocean in her orange bikini, slow motion like, skin glistening looking like every man’s dream. Including my six-year-old son’s.

His reaction was “WHOA!” and his jaw was on the floor. While part of me was “Yes! My boy appreciates a good woman and will make some gal a great husband”, the other part of me was struck with his automatic response. His knee jerk reaction to a woman’s body, particularly the part just above the waist and just below the neck, (if you know what I mean) surprised me. Where did this come from?

He was born that way! No…I mean, really, he was born that way! He was created by God to love and appreciate one woman…someday.

Lately I have been pondering a subject that needs our attention. Modesty. Remember back when I narrowed the subject matter of this blog to becoming a woman of God? When I told you that I wasn’t going to be politically correct? That some things might hurt our toes a little bit? This is one of those things.

Ladies, we are not of this world, so why do we act like we are?

I watched Hannity interview Rebecca St. James on the subject of the “slutwalks” that originated in Toronto and are now taking place around our country. These “slutwalks” consist of women who are generally scantily dressed and are taking place to rebuttal the belief that women who dress provocatively are “asking” to be raped and treated without respect. Here is a little bit of the interview:

The first demonstration was called earlier this month after a Toronto police officer claimed “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Since then, protests have spread through cities across the U.S.
“I think there has to be responsibility though for what a woman is wearing,” St. James told Hannity Monday. “When a woman is dressing in an immodest way, in a proactive way, she’s got to think about what is she saying by her dress?”
“They’re asking for sex,” she continued. “They’re asking for sex if they’re dressed immodestly.”
While Rebecca agreed that no woman deserves to be raped and mistreated, she did say (and I completely agree with her) that women are to be responsible for what they are saying and asking through their actions, specifically how they dress.

That brings me to something that I am seeing more and more in our churches today. We are allowing the world’s standards to creep in, in more ways than one.

What did you wear to church this past Sunday? Did you show some cleavage? One inch? Two? Do you really want every man in that church staring at you, thinking about your body the way your husband does? Really?

Do you mean to be a distraction to your pastor as he is trying to bring you the Word of God? Are you testing him? As he is talking to you after church, trying to maintain eye contact, do you want him battling his flesh? He is a man. Men are physical beings. Yes he loves God. Yes, he has dedicated his life to serving our Lord and Savior. He is still a man! Don’t go there!

How about your best friend’s husband? Do you want him thinking about your body in a sexual way? Come on! Stop! It makes you feel sexy? Great…wear it for your husband in the privacy of your bedroom!

Speaking of husbands…how does it make your husband feel when you wear that low cut top? Do you think he likes you sharing that part of you that should be his, and his alone? If our guys, who are seeking to do God’s will in all, manage to keep their eyes off your breasts and win the “flesh” war that you have thrust them into, the men in Walmart are not going to show any discipline, period! You bare yourself in public and you can expect to be gazed upon, gawked at, whistled at, talked about, and in extreme cases…taken advantage of.

Is it right? No. Should it happen? No. While those questions are asked and answered in rhetoric, the most important question is this: Does it happen? Yes.

There are men out there who have no self-control. They do not care about your rights. They do not care about your freedom of self-expression. They see something they want and they take it. It doesn’t matter how wrong it is. It doesn’t matter that there will be consequences. It doesn’t matter to him that it’s 90 degrees outside and you are hot. It just doesn’t matter.

If you are victimized, those questions won’t matter to you either. It’ll all be over but the crying!

I Thessalonians 4:7 For God has not called us for impurity, but of holiness.

Do you reach for the higher goal…the goal of holiness? Or are you satisfied with the world’s way of doing things?

Friday, May 20, 2011

To Ask or Not to Ask...That is the Question!

I am one of those people who learn by watching. If I can see someone do it, then I can learn it. If I have to read directions to figure it out…then forget it.

For instance, my husband picked up a little book on how to make paper airplanes for our son. There are intricate directions, folded lines, straight lines, arrows and other types of visual aids that are supposed to take the person reading successfully through all the steps of making a paper airplane. Not me. I will attempt it. I will fold on dotted line…cut on the solid one. I’ll do anything and everything to that darn piece of paper but it will not end up looking like an airplane. I simply do not learn that way. I want to take the book and throw it out the window!

Now if someone said “here, watch” and they proceeded to make the airplane, I would get it. That goes for the computer, gardening, putting gadgets together, taking them apart…it doesn’t matter what it is…that is how I learn.

One morning this week while I was in my prayer time, I heard the Lord’s whisper. His voice was quite clear and it brought revelation to me. Here is what He said, “I am not your earthly parents. Do not be afraid to ask things of me. And when you do ask, do not doubt that I will do it.”

This startled me. I thought I had been asking things of the Lord, especially when I knew the thing that I asked of Him was His plan and/or the direction He was leading my family and I in. I did not realize I was expecting the same treatment as I received from my earthly parents.

When I was a child, I dare not ask anything of my mother. My parents divorced when I was five and I lived primarily with my mother. I have very few memories of that time of my life. When my grandmother was alive, she shared things with me, things that would explain the holes that make up most of my childhood. I do not know why, but I carried the belief that I should never ask for anything.

When I moved in with my father and stepmother the summer before I started high school, I carried that belief with me. My dad and my step mom never did anything to reinforce that belief, although they did not realize what I was doing. This carried on through college. My father did not want me working while I was in school, but I had no money. I did not feel “safe” enough to ask them for money for toothpaste or shampoo. I gave blood every six weeks to get $20 for my very basic of needs. I do not fault them. Their oldest child was five years old when suddenly they took on two teenagers. They simply did not know and apologized to me, with great sadness, much later in life.

I never realized that I was “afraid” to ask the Lord for anything…and when I did ask, I would make excuses for why He might not answer my prayers. Not only that, I would console myself, making ready for that inevitable “no.”

Without conscience effort, I took my Lord, the most powerful, awesome, glorious, holy, perfect, all knowing Maker of the universe and I personified Him. I put clothes on Him. I combed His hair. I put shoes on his feet and I looked upon Him as I would any other man. I doubted His love for me. I doubted His protection. I doubted His wisdom and His perfect plan for my life.

Now that I have revelation…how do I fix a behavior that has been reinforced over a long period of time?

Well, if you are me, you watch and you listen.

On Friday I get to pray with some great people, I am going to listen to how they pray, and then we will talk about their attitude and expectations. I know this sounds strange to some of you. I mean, who needs to be shown how to pray?

I can quote the Lord’s Prayer. I can tell you what each line signifies. I can tell you about practical application. But…I have never been shown. God created me. He knows my heart. He loves me enough to correct me, to show me the error of my ways. Shouldn’t I be humble enough to do what it takes to press in closer to Him?

How do you learn? How does your learning style affect your walk with the Lord? Can you ask for help when you need it…or does pride stand in your way?

Monday, May 16, 2011


First, my apologies! I had a write up ready to post and blogger was down both Thursday and Friday before I left for my weekend. Therefore, it has been almost a week since you have read anything new here. Not my intention, so, please forgive me.

That being said, I am going in a completely different direction than my original post. I can change my mind…I am a woman!

This weekend I was blessed to be able to spend time with some absolutely great women, women who encouraged me, prayed for me, and laughed till it hurt with me.

It all started on Friday night at our favorite restaurant in Janesville, WI, Cozumel. If you can handle the spicy stuff…get the Camerones en la Chipotle. Fabulous!

I met Marlene and Dee there at 6:30 and we were extremely bad patrons…we sat and laughed for three hours. It simply could not be helped! I cannot remember the last time we had a chance to sit, talk and laugh! I love my friends. I love our time together. I love that miles and miles separate us, but when we are together nothing has changed. We still are there for one another; we still love one another.

On Saturday afternoon, I delivered a message to approximately 50 ladies. In my message, one of the things I talked about was lifting each other up…being a Ruth to one another, as Ruth was to Naomi. Ruth literally means a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Sunday afternoon, after spending a couple of hours with yet another friend at Starbucks, I began my three-hour drive home. I began thinking about my relationships with my friends. I am blessed beyond measure that I have many, many ladies that I call true friends. My question to myself was…Am I a friend that sticks closer than a brother? Do I pray for my friends? Am I there when my friends are in need? Am I compassionate? Am I truthful? Do I share my heart and trust them with my pain? Do I give as much as I get from them? Am I to be trusted? Can I keep a confidence? Am I fun to be around…yet serious when the need arrives?

Being truthful with myself, I had to say I do not pray for my friends as much as I should. I realized that sometimes, hurts were hidden and I was not there for them, as they might have needed me to be. My heart was heavy.

Distance can be a four-letter word. I have let time and space create a gap in my relationships. I have come to the realization I need to become proactive in my long distance friendships. I do not want chasms to separate my friends and I. While I love the social networking benefits of facebook and twitter for being an author promoting my work, I hate the fact that I am able to maintain a superficial connection with my friends; friends who need me in a deeper way than a simple status update.

Ruth was an encourager, she was a helper, she listened, she acted and she trusted. She stuck with her friend through thick and thin, never giving up on her and never letting her down. She walked through the toughest times with her and experienced her pain. She laughed with her on the mountaintops of life, and loved with her through everything.

How about you? Are you a Ruth?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ok..I get it!

I learned about Author Central from another author friend. The site, which gives sales data from approximately 75% of retail outlets, ranking information etc. became a regular “stop” on my internet errands I run each day.

On Tuesday, April 26, at 11:30 PM I typed in the required password to check the stats of Until Forever. It had been at least two days since my previous glance and who knows…much can change in two days.

I looked at the first chart…no change. I scrolled down and my heart nearly jumped out of my chest. The graph line measuring ranking, which had maintained a pretty much even keel at 3.9 million out of 8 million, took a very drastic and sudden jump toward the top of the chart. Up 3.7 million in the rankings, Until Forever, was now ranked at 211,700 out of 8 million books.

This was big. This was exciting. I had sold ten in one day before and the rankings barely took notice. What was happening? I had to share. I called my daughter. I woke up my husband. I called our pastor and I called my sister-in-law. Everyone was excited. Everyone agreed with me…something was happening.

The only thing was…it would be two weeks before I would know what. It was a long two weeks to say the least.

Fast forward to Friday May 6th. Excitedly, I type in my password. I scroll down to the sales section. I look at the information. I close my eyes and shake my head. I look again. WHAT? One book sold? That can’t be! How can the sale of one book jump the ratings by 3.7 million? Impossible!

As I am looking at the screen, I hear that still small voice say…not too quietly I might add, “Stop! Stop looking at sales information. Stop counting. Stop trying to do my job and concentrate on what I have called you to do.”

You see…God has called me to write. I am to make phone calls and write emails. When doors open for me to speak, I am to walk through those doors and speak the words He places on my heart. He has called me to many things…but counting sales is not one of them. What a sense of humor God has! What a way to get my attention and teach me a lesson.

Last night I was speaking with my mentor for near to two hours. I shared this story with her and she reminded me of I Chronicles 21 which tells the story of David counting the Israelites. Satan placed the seed in David’s heart…but David’s eagerness took over and carried the task through to completion. The Lord even sent a messenger to David, Joab, who reminded David that the number of Israelites was God’s business…not his. David did not listen to counsel. He continued on. David allowed his pride and vanity to rise up within him and dictate his actions. His actions brought great pain to the people of Israel. His repentance brought restoration and healing. It also brought change and a clearer vision for the calling David had upon his life.

Lord, please forgive me for being vain and prideful. Please continue to change me into who you are calling me to be. Lord, I pray for your guidance, that my path is well lit before me and the directions You have for me are clear and precise. Thank you Lord for loving me enough that you correct me. Your forever servant, Darlene.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Oh What a World That Would Be!

On Tuesday of this week I had the opportunity to speak at a Catholic school in our area. What a blessing!

My first group of kids ranged from 5th grade to 8th grade. Absolutely respectful kids!

My second group was kindergartners through 4th graders. Again…I was in awe of their manners, their intelligence and their ability to pay attention in what I felt might be a difficult topic to sit for.

I was speaking on the topic of being an author. I tried to lighten it up, have fun. I spoke of JK Rowling and her rags to riches story. I spoke of Stephen King throwing away his rough draft of Carrie and his wife fishing it out, encouraging him to keep trying. We talked about the writers of the constitution and learned that one neither needs fame nor riches to impact the world in their writing.

We talked about persistence and never giving up. Even when the odds are against us, we can succeed. When someone tells us we can’t…we can! We discussed becoming the best we can in whatever field we choose.

Of all the things we talked about, one thing stands far above the rest in importance.

When God created you…he created you with a very specific purpose. The job that He has for you to do, no one else can do quite like you can.

Currently my son wants to be a chef with a famous restaurant one day a week. On another day of the week he wants to play football for the Packers. On yet another day of the week he wants to sing and dance like Michael Jackson. The other four days he plans on playing video games with his six children and his “yellow haired wife.”

When our son tells us of his plans, or when he asks us if he should be something different, we simply say, “We want you to be what God has called you to be.” We encourage him to ask God what his job is.

There are those in the world who grumble daily about their jobs. They are unhappy. They complain. They whine. They bring their grumpiness home for the whole family to enjoy.

Then, there are those that love their jobs. Yes, they occasionally have a bad day, but over all, they are doing what they love.

Which person would you rather be around? Which person would you rather be?

Imagine a world where we all worked together, doing the jobs we were intended to do.

Imagine a “church” where we all work together, each part of the body acting in accordance with God’s plan. Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, Methodist, Lutherans, etc., all working together to bring Christ to the world.

Oh what a world that would be!

Monday, May 2, 2011

To embrace it or kick and scream, that is the question!

All right, let me begin by apologizing to all my male readers. That being said, deal. You have wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters and, well, approximately half the population is of the gentler persuasion, so you must know someone who is a woman.

Taking all that into consideration, I will speak in vague terms so as not to upset or offend your manly man senses. If your manly man sense cannot talk straight talk about “women” stuff…stop reading now. This is your one and only warning…we are ready for take off…here goes…

Since the beginning of the year, I have changed from an “every 4 week regular kinda gal” to an “every 6 week kinda gal.” Not sure if this is due to stress (I don’t feel stressed out even though I have a lot going on and I’m told I don’t need to “feel” it to be affected by it) or it’s very early perimenopause. Come on…I’m only 44!

So…here’s the problem. Just when, after a gazillion years, I finally have a handle on my emotional issues at this topsy-turvy time of the month…I’m thrown a monkey wrench and everything changes. It’s not fair! (Temper tantrum stomping of feet is very hard to show here…use your imagination!)

On the surface, well, things couldn’t be better. My life stays relatively calm for six straight weeks instead of just four. Yeah…I like that part! It’s the rest that has me clamoring for the old ways.

For example, in the old days, I would have one day of either emotional sensitivity or an extreme lack of patience. Never both. Always a sign of what was about to come. I had the awareness and compassion on my family to say hey…sorry I am a bit (whichever it was) and we all went about life with a fair amount of normalcy.

Fast forward 3 months to present. Ugh. It’s a bit embarrassing to share this.

Two nights ago my husband and I were discussing my speaking schedule and coordinating our calendars. Were he and our son going with on an out of town trip…or not? Was I staying at a hotel or with family or friends etc? I mentioned that if he did not come with, I could stay with someone and that would save us some cash. Our conversation ended and we got on with the next thing.

The next day our conversation went something like this.

Danny: So what is happening this weekend?

Me: (thinking…uh…didn’t we have this conversation last night?) Well, I’ll ride down with Jonna on Friday night. She is taking the day off work on Saturday to help me with the book table.

Danny: Why are you going on Friday night?

Me: (getting a bit frustrated) because that is what I planned. What if something happens on our way down? The event starts at noon. I don’t want to be late. (I am an extreme planner…I have been in the area of an event hours early just so I can drive by it ahead of time to make sure I am not late. I have being late!)

Danny: Two nights of a hotel? (He knows I have a meeting with another area women’s ministry leader on Sunday afternoon to plan another event that I will be speaking at)

Me: Did we not discuss this last night? Forget it. Just forget it!

Danny: What? You are getting upset.

Me: Yes, because we already discussed this. (at this point I am crying…I head upstairs to get a box of tissues. I come back, half composed. My husband looks very confused.)

Me: I told you last night; I would stay at someone’s house. I give up.

Danny: I’m sorry. I forgot. I remember now that you told me. I just forgot.

Me: (bawling) I should quit now. What is the point? If nothing I say is memorable, what is the point of talking to anyone!!! You, my husband, can’t even remember what I said last night. How are women anywhere going to remember anything I say? This is pointless.

At this point my husband started laughing…he knew better, but apparently he couldn’t help it.

As I turned my head away (I see where both my children get this very annoying trait) so I couldn’t see him, he continued to laugh.

My “mad” stayed around for a little while. I had imaginary conversations in my head for a couple of hours before God got a hold of me and talked some sense into me.

The message was simple. Change is inevitable. You can either embrace it…or scream and kick the whole way. Make a decision.

Embracing it will continue you on this journey of “becoming” what I have called you to be at a pace that will get you where you are going while you can still walk, talk, type, see, and hear your audience. Kicking and screaming all the way will get you there…but in a wheelchair. By the time you arrive, your gifts will have become useless and I will have already used someone else. Your choice. You Decide.

Do you embrace the changes that come in your life? Do you see them as opportunities to grow and mature? Or do you have the tendency (like me sometimes) to kick and scream, fighting against them with every ounce of your being?