Milestones, Transition and Living With Purpose

Milestones, Transition and Living With Purpose

~Janet’s Blog

Early Milestones…

In Washington State you cannot get your driver’s license until you are 16 years old.  I think this is a very good rule and always will.  Why?  Let me tell you a story…

Shannon was a nice friend to have at church.  She added a lot of joy to the singing quartet I led when we were in high school.  She always invited me to youth group and encouraged me to hang out with her and her friends.  And she made me feel wanted, cared about, like one of the gang.

Shannon was a social butterfly, very comfortable around boys, laughing, joking etc.  She taught me a lot about being a teenage girl, kicking back with gal pals, and flirting with the guys.  She was a fun, popular, and genuinely a nice person.

In the Spring of ’85 (yes, a long time ago), she invited me and my dear friend, Katie, to go to a Michael W. Smith concert.  I’d never gone to a concert before.  I was so excited!  That night we laughed, sang, linked arms, and swayed to the music.  I had never had so much fun with gal pals ever!  In spite of the fact I couldn’t hear worth a darn afterward, it was awesome!

Some Milestones Are Better Than Others

No sooner had this whole new world of fun and frolicking opened up to me when, “BAM!,” I was overcome by complete devastation. Some milestones aren’t welcome.

Shannon died.  She was in a car accident the night before we were to sing some special songs at church.  We were all crushed.  How could this be, God?!  She’s just a kid!  Everyone loved Shannon, so why not take me instead?!  Oh, I wrestled with that feeling of guilt and unworthiness most of the summer.

Our quartet stopped singing.  We went through a time when we really didn’t even interact with each other.  It hurt too much!

Thank God, our mom’s were watching out for us. They helped us pick up the pieces and move forward.  It was hard, at first.  Shannon’s parents stopped coming to church.  This was sad.  I felt like if I had just run over to them and hugged them that maybe they would have stayed.  I think the reality that even kids can die was so frightening that I was just emotionally frozen for a while.

It’s amazing how some of our greatest losses can have the most incredible impact on the directions of our lives.  At church, I was suddenly viewed as a leader in the youth group.  I ended up changing my career path from majoring in Music to majoring in Youth Ministry. More milestones.

Little did I know the pain I experienced as a kid would provide me with the tool of compassion.

As the years go buy I think of Shannon often, all the amazing gifts of life she has missed out on because of one mistake in a car.  I sing this song and share this story so kids can hear first-hand about the importance of taking driving seriously.   No texting, speeding, goofing around…please!!  You have so much ahead of you. Don’t miss it! Arrive at all the positive milestones you can.

What has been a significant life-shaping event in your life?

Add to the conversation! We’ll be glad you did. And if you’d like, you can listen to a sample of my song, “Milestones” on iTunes.

photo credit: Viernest via Photopin cc

Brave Reviews

Brave Reviews

I just discovered a great resource, Brave Reviews, for learning about many good books out there, reviewed by Jason Brueckner. It’s not that there aren’t a bunch of people reviewing books already; there are. Plenty. It’s just that I really like Jason’s reviewing approach, style and choices.

The short course on Jason: he studied at Malone University in Canton, Ohio where he double majored in Bible & Theology as well as Youth & Sports Ministry. After getting married, he moved his family to Chicago, Illinois and commuted out to Wheaton Graduate School. There he earned, “by God’s grace,” a Master’s in Biblical Exegesis. While his degree isn’t as cool as mine [Systematic Theology, which everyone knows is better], I asked Jason if it would be alright to share his story with you. Delightfully, he agreed! Here’s the full course:

I really appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to share! I know the importance of the internet and how viral contagious ideas can be. In a great sense, that is why I started Brave Reviews. When you have found a good idea, it can transform your life and the lives of your neighbors and cities and so forth. Books are ideas that have been poured out onto pages so to be shared with others. We need to hear new ideas so to grow, so to transform (check out Colossians 1:10).

Why do I give of my time to Brave Reviews?

I got sick and tired of only seeing people who don’t like a book sit down and put together a review. Brave Reviews exists as a trustworthy corner of the web where people can find unbiased reviews of contemporary texts. I do not believe in a “bad book.” Whether it is a romance novel or a hotly-debated theological text, we as learners should be having conversations with a variety of genres. So now you should be asking what a person who would not give a book a poor evaluation is doing reviewing books for others. The calling of Brave Reviews is two simple tasks:

    1. Let followers know what books are available. Our audience is just like anyone else; they are over-committed and over-compassionate. In other words, you love people so much that you have not given yourself adequate time to stay up on what is being published. Brave Reviews is like an alarm clock for followers that alerts them of new and noteworthy texts.
    2. Let followers know what books are for them. How many times have you heard, “Yeah, you should really pick this book up. It’d be great for you in your field!” If we had a book for every time we heard that! Our second task is to be a filter for these new books. It is important to know what is being published in general, but it is vitally important for your own growth to know what is being published in your area of expertise. For example, Brave Reviews will be doing a review of a new NLT Study Bible that is not yet in stores and that is important for everyone to know about! But, you may be deeply immersed in the world of business so you’d want to probably pick up a copy of Doing Virtuous Business. As professionals in our own skill sets, we must know what books are available for us specifically and Brave Reviews will assist in providing that filter.

It’s a brave task, I know, but in this world of mass media it is a much worthy adventure.

If you would like to both help Brave Reviews spread the word and enter into a drawing (we are giving away books, Starbucks gift cards, and more!), head over to www.thebravereviews.com/About and enter into the giveaway.

Thanks for getting to know us a bit!

God bless him, Jason even agreed to look 0ver my books! Perhaps someday one or both will land on his awesome site, Brave Reviews! And I was just joking about my degree being better, Jason… 😉

 

“Drive” Isn’t Only About Driving, It’s About Living

“Drive” Isn’t Only About Driving, It’s About Living

~Janet’s Blog

The Drive to “Drive”

Drive is a song I co-wrote with my friend, Jeff Lowery, awhile ago.  We met through a youth ministers’ local support group in Yakima, Washington.  When Jeff told me he had written songs before and was open to trying out writing together, I just about jumped out of my skin!  The week after I “retired” from youth ministry we started writing together.

Working with Jeff helped me find the confidence I needed to trust my own songwriting abilities.  He would play the guitar and we would write together. After awhile we would take turns presenting an idea of a potential song and then together we would finish it.

Our time writing and singing together was truly a great gift to me.  If you are out there in Facebook-land, thanks, Jeff!

The song “Drive” was our first song. The first verse starts off with,

Drivin’ down the road is an easy thing to do,

just jump in, turn it on and let it go. 

It gets a little harder when a fork comes in the road,

to the left or to the right, how do I know?

Life As A Journey

We often don’t know what is around the bend as we journey through life.  All we can do is pray driveand try to make good choices.  Sometimes our decisions take us further down the road we were on but other times the fork takes us on a wild goose chase.

The words to the chorus, “God is always with you, no matter where you go” I find very comforting.  Knowing that no matter who I am, what I believe or what I do, doesn’t change the fact that God is always with me!  That’s pretty cool!

You can know that throughout your journey here on earth, God is right there with you.

There is an excellent dialogue in the movie, The Stand written by Steven King that takes place between Mother Abigail and Nick, that goes like this. “What if I don’t believe in God?” In response to Nick’s question Mother Abigail gives out a hearty laugh and says, “It don’t matter whether you believe in God. God believes in you!”

If it doesn’t feel like God is with you, maybe there is a reason for that.  Have you given God a chance to be in on your life or have you kept Him at a distance?  Have you stopped your busyness for a moment and tried listening?  Could you possibly not have received the answer you wanted, so subconsciously you are angry at God? Perhaps you have withdrawn?

No matter how we feel about God it makes no impact on the reality that He is right there with you.

Spin on these ideas and see what you come up with. It’s worth it. Laughter returns. Joy bubbles. And you’ll find yourself able to “drive” again.

Add to the conversation below. We’ll be glad you did.

Wave of Grace

Wave of Grace

~Janet’s Blog

Grace At The Beach

“Wave of Grace” is based on my memories of Joel and I taking Jessica to the ocean for the first time.  She was only 18 months old.  It was such an exciting day of discovery for her!  She had spent so much time either in our house or my office at the church (I was doing Youth Ministry at a church full-time) that we hadn’t actually bought her official shoes yet, just cute slippers with animals on them.  In spite of her tootsies getting a little damp she waddled with all her might along the edge of the sea.  She really kept us on our toes!!

After a while, she reached down and “discovered” sand.  She quickly learned that wet sand sticks to your hand.  She got so frustrated when she let go of the sand, but it would not let go of her!  Jessica shook her hand and expressed her thoughts on the matter, grumpy that her efforts to be sand-free were so unsuccessful.  Joel or I would then help her clean off all the sand.  Relieved that she was free of the sand, she would immediately plunge her hand back into the wet sand!  Once again, Jessica was appalled that the sand would have the audacity to stick to her hand again!  Had she not made it clear that she did not appreciate this outcome!?

Grace In The Grit

I can’t help but think there must be some kind of similarity between us watching our children and God watching us choose to do things a certain way over and over and getting frustrated when we get the same results each time.

In daily life, it is so easy for me just to fall back into old habits, doing things the same way over and over but expecting a different outcome.

God wants so much good for us and yet gave us the freedom of choice, so if we don’t want the good, He has to offer we are free to reject it.  That’s got to be hard when He can see so many wonderful possibilities for us…His waves of grace!

Being a Mom, I have learned that wanting the best for my daughter is not completely in my control.  Sometimes cost gets in the way. Or situations.  But even when I can provide her with opportunities, I can’t make her embrace them.  All I can do is encourage her to be open to the experience and hope that she will choose to be positive.

I have my own times when I am open to what God wants for me and other times that I have no interest in trying something new or viewing a change more positively.

How about you?  Do you try to be open to God’s direction or changes in life that come your way?  Do you demand to be the one making the shots?  If maybe a little of both, why?

Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did [leave us a note by leaving your comment below].

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