Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year. New Changes.

This week, many of us will be thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, or personal changes that we would like to make in our lives.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly 50 percent of Americans will resolve to make at least one important change in their lives, but a mere eight percent will be successful in keeping such resolutions. 

As I consider that statistic, I must admit that I am not surprised to hear that most of us do not stick to the resolutions that we make at the beginning of each year.  So many of us value change and progression, yet we struggle to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves.  Why is that?  Why is it so hard to make personal changes, particularly when they are important, meaningful, and beneficial?  What is so hard about doing what is best for us and achieving what we really want? 

In truth, I think that the answers to questions such as these are quite complex, yet simplistic at the very same time.  Change is hard.  It takes commitment, perseverance, and even courage.  Taking matters of life into our own hands involves responsibility, accountability, and the overcoming of obstacles that we would rather not face.  Additionally, as we make lasting changes in our lives, we may be put in a position that requires the help of others.  We may encounter uncertainty.  And we may have to rely on new processes such as insight, self-awareness, and discovery rather than older processes that we were once so comfortable with.       

Simply said, change can be hard.  Change can be scary.  Change can be confusing.  And sometimes, change is none of these things and it is unexpected or unintentional.  It might even be exciting, or simply the result of something natural or evolutionary.  Regardless of what change feels like, though, it is quite often necessary.  It is necessary in life because change leads to progression.  To growth.  To the betterment of one’s self and one’s life. 

As most of us well know, the journey of life does not happen in our comfort zone.  There are times in our lives that we must venture out to unknown territory and test our limits.  There are times in our lives that we must be a bit uncomfortable.  That we must do something a bit differently and make a change that is important, meaningful, and for the better in the long run.  This is important, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable, for it is during these times that we learn what we are made of, discovering who we really are, what we really want in life, and what incredible feats we are really capable of. 

So if you are anything like those of us that are considering New Year’s Resolutions this week, I encourage you to make the most of it.  Venture out of your comfort zone and into new territory.  Challenge yourself, and attempt to do something differently.  And remember that most of the beautiful rewards in life would never had been achieved had a change not been made. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Merry Christmas everyone ~♥~Sara

I pray you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I pray you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I pray you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I pray you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I pray you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I pray you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I pray you enough "Hellos" to get you through the final "Good-bye"

Unknown Author

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Be bold, be bold, be bold.

"Freedom lies in being bold." -Robert Frost

Before you read any further, take just a moment and reflect on what that means to you.  Consider your idea of fortune and what that might look like in your life. Similarly, ask yourself what being bold mean to you.  When you think of living a bold life, what do you think of? Do you think of living a life that is free of fear, doubt, and apprehension? A life that is full of adventure, that is action-packed? Do you think of living life only for yourself, without any regard for others? Perhaps you think of living life as an outsider, as a rebel, a rogue.

Or perhaps living boldly means none of these things to you. Perhaps, when you think of living a bold life, you do not think of danger, adrenaline, and rebellion. Perhaps instead, you think of doing what you love, making time for play and self-care, and prioritizing your loved ones. Perhaps you think of having sound values, beliefs, and conviction. Of standing up for yourself, for others, and for what you believe in. Maybe living boldly to you means living with integrity, capability, perseverance, and grit. Of speaking your mind, expressing your feelings, and saying exactly what you mean, and meaning exactly what you say. Perhaps it means fostering meaningful relationships, with yourself and with others. It could even involve refraining from judgment, pessimism, and encouraging compassion, forgiveness, and lovingkindness. A life that keeps your heart and your mind open to new ideas, growth, awareness, and insight. Of realizing your goals and chasing your dreams. Perhaps a bold life is one that is liberated, courageous, and genuine. A life that allows you to be free to be exactly who you want to be.

Today, I encourage you to consider what it means to you to live boldly. Reflect on who you are and how you express yourself to the world through word and deed. Think, for a moment, about how true you are to yourself. Ask yourself what it would take for someone to water you down. How easily you can be reined in. How boldly and intentionally you live your life, trusting in yourself that the life you are living is the life that is for you.

No matter what this bold and brazen life looks like to you, however, I ask you to indulge yourself. Go ahead and live the life of your dreams, and do so with courage and valor of heart. Do not apologize or excuse the person you are or who you are not. Instead, revel in your unique beauty and enjoy exactly who you are at this moment, in this lifetime.

Live boldly today, for any other option is not truly living. Spread your wings as you embrace yourself. Chase your dreams, be true to yourself, and live.  Boldly.

Friday, December 16, 2011

...look up, get lost. :)

"We look not to the things that are seen

but to the things that are unseen;

for the things that are seen are transient,

but the things that are unseen are eternal."

-Corinthians 4:18



Thursday, December 15, 2011

I quickly changed the subject.

I read recently that "we are likened to a clay jars that hold the treasure." It went something like... Want to go on a treasure hunt? Look in the mirror. The person looking back at you is full of value and hides a treasure. In a time long ago the clay jar or pot were valuable to their owners. The pots may not have been as beautiful as a jeweled container, but the clay pots were useful and lasted long. They were ordinary, but they were invaluable for the tasks needed in the household.

Like a clay pot or jar, we are an ordinary tool. An everyday person.

A while back I was asked a question that I found peculiar. Well peculiar because...You just don't come out and ask someone..."so... when you're alone, do you like yourself?" Maybe I'm the odd ball but I found it to be a question I never thought to ask myself much less to be asked it by another person. I don't recall me answering and I'm sure I quickly changed the subject.

I've reflected back on that question a lot and I've come to think it is maybe that simple... working on a "yes" for that little question can do a lot for one's inner self. Life can seem so large and crushing. If only we can choose to chew on one small manageable piece at a time.

"We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want." What do you fill your pot with? Worry, fear, sadness and resentment? Or grace, comfort, gratefulness and peace...!

The Potter's House~"Sometimes saying goodbye to certain people, habits or things helps us to transition for God’s divine purpose. For many of us, change is traumatic. Others crave change. To be used for your highest, you must be a forward thinker and plan your life with change in mind."

I've come to do whatever I can...pray, read, talk, express, whatever I can do to learn how to honestly answer YES to my little question. "When I'm by myself, do I like myself?" Yes YES yes!

The story of the clay pot was written by Paul in Corinthians 4:7 "We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great power is from God, not from us."

The treasure Paul is talking about is Jesus.

If you ever feel as boring as a clay jar, be glad. God chose to live in you and use you. It isn't what is on your outside that counts, but who is on your inside. Embracing this truth has me understanding that I am never truly alone. The feelings of loneliness and solitude CAN be feelings of companionship and peace if I choose it.

We deserve to be honored, not by others but by ourselves... next time you find yourself alone, celebrate the clay pot you are likened to.

Our prayer for this week is: God, In our grief, be with us and change our heart. In our anger, be with us and change our heart. In our pain, be with us and change our heart. In our doubt, be with us and change our heart. It is not that we do not have, but rather that which we do have has a hold on us. Lord, teach us the true meaning of thankfulness, otherwise we shall be led away by the lie of riches. As you have said yourself, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul”? We pray this in Jesus’ name. ~Amen.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lookie See

Can you imagine what it would belike if we had the ability to see into the lives of the people we encounter eachday?   What would it be like to discoverthat each person we encounter has something going on that we would otherwise nothave known about: Fear or pain, feelings ofdiscontent or a lack of purpose, addiction, loneliness, grief or loss,or an unmet need.  Can youimagine what it would be like to see people in such a way?  To see that the people we are surrounded byare not just "other people" and see them for who they really are, not what we assume them to be.  To see that they, just like you and I, havetriumphs and struggles. 

If we were ableto see these things about people, we would discover that we certainly cannotjudge a book by its cover.  That eachperson we meet is worthy of love, compassion, and empathy.  That we really must walk a mile in anotherman's shoes before we can truly understand him.

If you can imagine what it wouldlike to see people in such a way, can you imagine what it would be like to be those people?  What would it be like to grieve the death ofyour best friend?  To run away from homeat a young age?  To be bullied?  To go bankrupt?  To feel alone?  What might it feel like to live through tragedy,heartbreak, loss?  What might it feellike to know pain?

If we could see people in such anlight, and have compassion and empathy for them, we discover that we really arenot as different as may first think.  Wehave all known pain or faced some hardship at some point in our lives.  Yet, we seem to forget that about oneanother.  We know that we must treat oneanother with kindness, that we must refrain from judgment, that we must be patient with them and ourselves.  But so often, weforget this and treat people unjustly, harbor ill will towards them, or take their experiences for granted.  So often, weignore the experience of others and assume that we have them all figuredout. 

So often, we let the chance toshow someone love slip through our fingertips.

So what can we do aboutthis?  What is the solution to thisproblem?  The solution iscompassion.  It is empathy.  It is lovingkindness.  It is doing good for others and doing goodfor ourselves.  It is remembering that weare all in this together, that we are all interconnected and interdependentupon one another. 

I encourage you to take a different kind of lookaround you today.  Open your mind, take a deeper look, andtry to see what does not meet the eye. Have compassion for other people and show them how good you are.  How good you know that they are.  And if you cannot do this, at least do themno harm.  Instead, take the time to reach out andtouch the hearts of those surrounding your, and in turn, allow your heart to betouched by theirs. 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

it's yours. follow it.

"....the moment you feel someone should THINK like you THINK, BELIEVE what you BELIEVE, hold TRUE what you hold TRUE, is the moment you have lost your way....your path is for YOU to follow - and in the end is a great big gathering of HEARTS with their OWN story to tell."

 ♥ ♥ 

make it a good one!


Our Words.

This week to say the least has been awe-inspiring.

On one hand I have been lifted in God's work. I was blessed with kind words from those that heard "A sacrifice of Thanksgiving" in church. I'm excited about the new connections that have been made for Wings of Hope and I’m grateful for the work being done in the little grief group I attend. Along with a few other events and messages received this week that has me inspired to keep sharing and caring, to keep spreading hope and love.

But on the other hand is why the "Awe" needs to be in front of my "Inspiring" week. As I shared my feelings last week of insecurity and expressed how my grief has me humbled. I've found that one person very near and dear to my heart has not been experiencing me in this light. I'm not sure why or when this happened but I learned of this after I too easily shared my opinion. Alot of something that boiled down to just because we think it, doesn’t mean that we have to say it and this has fractured our relationship. When I spoke up, I knew that my opinion was going to sting but I also knew that WE’VE been doing that "slap of reality" FOR each other all our lives. With me now being seen differently in their eyes... I had no chance of contributing our “old way”. In fact I've been left dazed and confused with... is there a "new" way or is it now "no" way? I'd like to start a new paragraph and tell everyone how I have a happy ending to my story but I can’t. Besides, because this person is so important to me I would never long for an ending. All I can say is I'm sorry that you feel this way, nothing can or will affect the way I feel for you and I'm on my knees praying for God’s continued guidance.

The following is a message from Pastor Paul.
The Word for this week is: “our words”. Seems fitting for the spot I find myself.

Our prayer for this week is that we will think before we speak, and speak with wisdom when we do. Blessed is the Lord who beckons us to prayer. In Jesus name ~ Amen.


Scripture Text: Isaiah 50:4 Living Bible
“The Lord God has given me His words of wisdom so that I may know what to say.”

Imagine a world without words! They are so necessary for communication, essential for instruction, correction and coordination. They have an incredible, almost unequalled potential to heal or hurt. “The power of life and death is in the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Could we ever imagine a world without unkind and unwise words? Wouldn’t that be a good change? Ever said something that later was wished would never have happened? Friends do that. Spouses do that. Brothers and sisters do that. Sons and daughters do that. Parents do that, and pastors and church people do that. We all can remember so many times that we have done just that, and regret every time we allowed ourselves to do so. Foolish words. In the heat of the moment. Out of frustration. Words of anger. Without thinking. Someone described it this way, “having their mouth in gear while their brain was still in neutral.” That is definitely not a good thing – for us or anyone else for that matter.

The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers at Ephesus to not only speak the truth, but to always “speak the truth in love . . . let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:15, 29). How can anyone successfully achieve that without depending on God to give them wisdom with their words? It is not only saying the right thing, but also saying it in the right way. Even at the right time. “A word fitly spoken . . .” (Proverbs 25:11).

“If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to control the whole body” (James 3:2) Mastering our words is a key to mastery in other areas of our personal lives. Wisdom is a filter through which we choose our words. Love is a filter through which we check our words. Consideration of others is a filter for our words. Just because we think it, doesn’t mean that we have to say it.

The best filters are these: will our words glorify God (Romans 15:6). Will our words edify the hearer (Philippians 4:6). Will our words testify of Jesus’ love and grace (Colossians 3:17). If our words can pass those tests, then we can be assured that “The God has given words of wisdom that we may know what to say.”

Final thoughts:

(*) When having a bad time with our tongue, repent, asking God and the one damaged to forgive us.
- Get back on track with a clean heart and spirit.
- Slow down. -- Think and pray over what a better way of expressing the concern might be, even postpone talking about the matter until a better understood wisdom and God’s heart in what needs to be said is found.
- Learn to put on the brakes in any situation immediately when the red light of the Spirit’s conviction starts to alert us of the unsettling danger that is most likely ahead. – A scheduled time to prepare for a difficult conversation is found to be very helpful.
- Learn the wisdom of not talking.
… Keep confidences, protect relationships, and walk in the freeing humility and clear spirit of a tongue in check.
… The Apostle Paul wrote to the church these words: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). -- “Seasoned with salt”, timely, balanced, life-giving, preserving, nourishing, desirable, relationship-building.
(*) Of Jesus they said: “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). -- May our patterns of speech emulate that of our Lord’s.

For those interested in receiving Pastor Paul's messages, please e-mail Pastor Paul (pastorpaul@willmarag.org) and mention you would like to be included.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I LOVE this time of year...picking out the tree...decorating the tree...creating a HUGE mess while making Christmas cookies...wrapping presents and watching the kids snoop under the tree...lights...garlin...stockings...and the spirit of BELIEVING!

I'm sure many of you heard the saying this time of year, "If you don't believe, you don't receive."  I heard someone say that the other day, and I thought to myself..."That is SO true for my life."  I've lived the majority of my life not believing...not believing in MYSELF!  I was never pretty enough, never skinny enough, never fast enough, never strong enough, never tall enough, never smart enough...I spent alot of my life disliking myself...full of guilt...full of shame...full of resentment...full of jealousy...and always wanting what I didn't have.  I was never just happy with what I had right in front of me, and I began to chase happiness.  "Once I have _______, I will be happy."  "Once I do _______, I will be happy."  I blamed others around me for my lack of happiness because I was counting on them to make me happy...my life spiraled downward and I had no choice but to find my happiness.  This was VERY hard for me because it wasn't something I was used to.  There was pain, there was hurt, there were tears, there were times I wanted my life to end...and then, my happiness seemed to sneak right in the door that I didn't know I left open.  My happiness came to me when I started living my life for ME...working hard to heal old wounds...turning it all over to GOD...and most of all, when I started to BELIEVE in MYSELF!

So my friends, I ask you what is in the way of YOUR believing?  I've learned that life is not easy...but it's what you make of it.  Don't stop believing...don't shut the door on something you don't think is possible to have anymore...don't give up HOPE.  Believe and you shall RECEIVE!

Angie Rudningen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just. Be. You.

Do you know what makes you tick?  What makes you happy and upset?  Can you admit to and face your fears?  Do you know what your gifts are and have a desire to share them?

…If you have answers to these questions, that is fabulous! You are on your way to satisfying your most basic and very unique intrinsic needs.

Do you have the ability to gauge both your strengths and your weaknesses?  Do you follow your gut instincts?  Are you able to set realistic goals for yourself that are also challenging?  Are you capable of engaging in self-reflection objectively, without making excuses for your perceived flaws?

…If you are able to provide answers to these questions, again, that is wonderful! Being able to look at yourself with objectivity suggests that you are self-aware and in tune with who you are. 

Do you have a willingness and an ability to act in accordance with your values?  Do you stand up for what you believe in, even if it may be uncomfortable to do so?  Are you able to reconcile the conflicting sides of yourself, tending to what seems most pertinent at the time?

…Again, if you are able to answer these questions, good for you, as it is rather likely that your actions are well-aligned with your core values.

Finally, are you able to foster honest and sincere relationships with the people in your life?  Are you comfortable revealing all sides of yourself, in some way or another, even though doing so may feel vulnerable?  Are you in touch with your emotions enough to express them to other people?

…Answering “yes” to these questions suggests that you allow yourself to be known by others because you know and are more or less comfortable with who you are.  Consequently, it is likely that you encourage others to reveal themselves to you as well.

Each one of these categories of questions addresses the four most basic facets of authenticity.  Authenticity means that you know and trust yourself well enough to let your guard down and reveal your most true self to yourself and others.  Being authentic means that you recognize that the self is complex, dynamic, and evolving and you are willing to adapt to life as you know it and accept yourself, for better or worse.  Essentially, it means that you prefer to just be you.   

Think for a moment about how authentically you live your life.  How comfortable you are in your own skin.  How in touch you are with your values and belief systems.  How accurately you can assess not only your strengths, but your weaknesses as well.  How easily you can expose your true heart and soul to other people, as well as yourself.

How genuinely do you live your life?   If you feel that you are an authentic individual, my heart smiles for you.  Because if you feel that you are true to yourself, you are so much more likely to feel happy.  To feel fulfilled and rewarded in this life.   You are much more likely to live freely, because you feel free to be yourself.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Losing Adam has not only...

G.R.I.E.F- over whelming hurt, pain, sorrow, anguish, a true meaning of heartache.

Grieving a loss- yearning for someone that once was. A longing for something that was anticipated.

I have for the past 11 months been sharing what Adam did to put forward what it feels like for me. To plead with anyone that is thinking about taking their own life to comprehend the pain it causes. The new heartache that I'm now discovering is it's not only the feelings that I'm left with but what it's been doing to me and those around me. It is a painful truth that I need to express! Knowing my brother... he knew this was going to hurt and for some he thought "good, let them hurt" for the others he felt bad but that we'd all get over it in time. WRONG ADAM...we will never get over it, moving on has been forced and our lives will always have holes.

Losing Adam has not only left me feeling the emotions of grief. The sadness, the guilt and the anger that comes and goes in waves but I'm also feeling the absents of my brother. This has left me with feeling misplaced myself. It was normal that I had embraced a false truth. Normal that I had thought Adam would always be in my life and I in his. Natural that the picture I had painted of my future included Adam, always. Now that life has been completely turned upside down, I've been forced to see that the picture I painted is incomplete and without him the rest feels unbalanced. Without him the other pieces look and feel unstable. This is uncomfortable for me yes, but how very uncomfortable for the others still here with me. I can see the pain, anger and uneasiness that is being caused to those around me, those that are still in this painting I described above. How terrible it must feel for the "other pieces" still remaining. Where and how do they now fit? Not only am I giving off the feeling of no longer being whole but to hear that our future picture is unstable...how distressing that must be. Adam's decision had left me feeling insecure. A feeling my family and friends were not use to me having and a feeling I refused to except.

I have found hope through my suffering. This is my testimony ♥...I had faith, I had my belief in the Lord's promise. But it's at the deepest of my suffering that I met Jesus and began my relationship with the Holy Spirit.

With the help of some wonderful people, I've turned my troubles and sorrows to the Lord and I trust Jesus in helping the rest of my family. See I put a lot of the blame for Adam on myself and then felt it was my job to take away the blame everyone else is feeling. I still have days that the guilt comes rushing back, this is always going to be a scar for me. But I know that I LOVED Adam and all that LOVE could do had been DONE!

I have also learned through my grief that we are not put here to do what it is we want to do with our lives but to do what God has planned for our lives. Planning for our future is good... preparation for eternity is essential. ‎... there is so much more than this world.

Romans 15:13... May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

For me Hope was produced by my endurance through my suffering. With God in my heart, Jesus by my side and the Holy Spirit as my guide I'm now very active in helping others. I can and have the opportunity to help others going through some of the same things I have and for this blessing I am very thankful. See I use to say, a lot, that God only gives you what you can handle. Now it's my belief that we can handle what we have been given with God.

Bitterness is a toxin that binds us to the past. Do you find yourself today with a “wad of paper” called guilt, bitterness, grief or resentment? Listen to the lyrics of the song “Amazing Grace” which talks about letting go of guilt, bitterness and grief:
AMAZING GRACE how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed!
Thro’ many dangers toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath bro’t me safe thus far And grace will lead me home.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we first begun. (“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, 1725-1807)

Our prayer this week: Lord, when our emotions surprise and confuse us, may we rest in Your constant presence of grace, mercy and peace in abundance. We pray this in Jesus’ name ~Amen.