#NotTheMovieFrozenJustFrozenChicken

(Excerpt from #365ReasonsNotToGiveUp, to be released in October 2014)

We raised chickens once (key word is ONCE), when our kids were young. It was an interesting experience to say the least. There is nothing more intimidating than to be eye to eye with a chicken that is staring you down. I remember one cold winter’s morning finding one such chicken lying seemingly dead at our back door. (It brought new meaning to the words ‘frozen chicken’.) The kids were upset that the poor chicken was so cold, or should I say so dead! It was kind of hard to explain that concept to them, as they carefully picked it up and carried it in by the wood stove to get warm. (A soft blanket was involved.) I had NO idea where this whole scenario was going.

As time went on, the chicken (who apparently was NOT dead after all), thawed. (So many chicken jokes I could insert here…) It shook snow and ice off its feathers, raised its head and looked at its adoring, cheering fans! (And you ask, now what!) I promptly marveled with them in the miracle of the chicken that came back to life in their care, and then had them quickly return it to its pen. The moral of this story is: don’t judge a chicken by its frozen feathers. It just needed a little loving care (and some heat) to revive it back to its original state. Don’t we all; don’t we all?! (wink/wink) Image

#FrozenDoesntMeanDead

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#ItCanBeAsSmallAsASeaShellButGodCares

End of a decade April 12, 2004 – April 12, 2014. I asked God for a sign, that I would move on into the next decade of my life, with new strength, resolve, hope and purpose…..and about 5 seconds (yes, seconds!) later, He ‘said’ – Here’s Your Sign !!!!Image

#HeavenIsForReal

Ten years ago I lost my husband Jack Morgan Channell, on the evening of Easter Sunday – April 12, 2004. I remember thinking how whatever day you lose someone always becomes that dreaded day of the year, and that if it fell on a holiday it would forever dampen that particular holiday. When Jack died on Easter, it struck me that it was such a wonderful day to remember him on. Easter. To me it is most certainly NOT about the Easter bunny (I have  no problem with egg decorating, egg hunts, and Easter baskets. and I love marshmallow peeps.) BUT I do think it just isn’t about all that. I am not even sure how a rabbit got into the translation!

Easter is the day we celebrate that Jesus was resurrected from the dead! Death had no power over Him, and because of that we are offered the same gift! Granted, I understand not every one may believe this. I for one, DO! I believe my husband passed from this place (earth) to another place (heaven) with just one breath. You take that one last breath here, and the next breath you take in eternity.

Because I know what my husband believed, I know where he is. I never for a minute stop missing him, but knowing where he is is a tremendous comfort. I don’t ever wonder if he’s wandering around the earth, or lost in space, or somewhere alone. Not for a moment. I know he was absent from his body, then present with God. Having said that, it has always blessed me that he passed away on Easter. Easter doesn’t always fall on the same date, but it is close enough that I associate losing him with the holiday.

So, while my family will of course be sad again this year, and 10 years is such a long time to miss someone, and to see all the voids he left that will never go away, I felt like God gave me a personal gift this year. (ok, not just for me…..but, it sure seems like it could be. :)) It was my first service  in OneChurch International in LA, where I live now, when it was announced that the producer of a new movie coming out,  would be speaking that morning and sharing about the movie!  The name of the movie was – HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. Of course that caught my attention! I had heard of the book, though never read it, about a little boy who had a near death experience and went to visit heaven. I could not wait to hear about it!

DeVon Franklin currently serves as Senior Vice President of Production for Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures and  Entertainment ,and was the speaker at church that morning. He talked about making the movie, and shared what it was about. I was so excited that a movie about heaven was coming out! Heaven is spoke of in the Bible as OUR HOPE. There’s a reason for that – when this life is overwhelming, over the top stressful, and maybe even feels hopeless, God meant for us to keep heaven on our mind and in our hearts , to be our driving force to keep us going, and get us through! Not matter what happens here, this life is but for a moment. Heaven will last for all eternity. It is His gift to us. (that none should perish but that all should have the gift of eternal and everlasting life.)  It truly is our hope!

I walked out of service to a film crew standing there, wanting volunteers to talk about what heaven meant to them. I felt a tug in my heart that I should say something. So, I waited in a line. A lot of people left, as we had to wait till the next service was over and it was quieter to hear those being interviewed. I still felt to wait. So, I went in and sat down for service no. 2, which was as good as service no. 1. Finally it was my turn to look into a camera, and share what heaven meant to me. To sum it up, I shared how I had lost my husband 10 years ago, and that the past 10 years had been very difficult for my family. I shared that if NOT for my belief that Jack was in heaven, and that we would all be together again, I could not have gone on. I said how of ALL the movies about God coming out this year, I felt THIS one was the most significant. BECAUSE IT BRINGS THE MESSAGE OF HOPE.  And we ALL need hope. Heaven IS our hope, that there is more to life than just our mere 70+ years (more or less) on planet earth. I hugged the interviewer afterwards, and said – Thank you for letting me do this. I felt like I got to do it in Jack’s honor. It was NOT a sad thing anymore; God had turned my mourning to joy.

As I turned to leave, I looked over to the movie poster to see when it was coming out in the theater. Of course. The movie about HEAVEN was coming out for EASTER. Of course it was. No irony for me there! (looking up and smiling and waving to Jack and Maren and Lora and Floyd and Edith and Mark and Helenore and all the ones cheering us on to our hope of heaven. No more tears.)

🙂 This Movie is In Honor Of All Those Who Have Gone Before Us! Image

#FeetAreAnOddPlaceToShowLove

I truly hate when I hear judgmental words. I desperately try to keep my thoughts, opinions, judgments, and needless words to myself. I usually find if i was to say them, they would probably be wrong anyways, or based on something I didn’t know enough about to give my opinion in the first place. (insert deep breath….)

I will offer one example, although I could think of…well, hundreds! When you hear the words ‘Skid Row’, you instantly think what? I will say it. You think ‘drunk laying in the street’. And go a bit further, and most people would at least think to themselves, that the drunk doesn’t deserve help. He got himself there; his problem.

I call that a misplaced judgment. We don’t know all the details of his life. We have no way of understanding the deep level of pain or loss or abuse or tragedy, that drove him to the street. Oh, and even if it was a failure that took him down, still we have no right to judge. Something broke him into shattered pieces. It didn’t probably happen overnight. It was a long, dark process of a downward spiral.

So, should we judge him? No. Should we care about someone who is down and out? Yes. If we cease to care, we cease to be human. And where does humanity end up? We all make mistakes. We all fail. We all could be in someone else’s shoes, and boy ~ THEN would we ‘get it’. Maybe we didn’t end up as a drunk in the streets, because we made good choices, had a lot of love extended to us, kept our noses clean, and life was just, well – good to us. In THAT case, we need to take our full hands of love, (and clean noses) and go lift up the fallen.

I go to a church right in the heart of Hollywood called OneChurch LA ,who is taking care of homeless people on  Skid Row, on a weekly basis. I LOVE that they refer to this place as Hope Row. Everyone deserves to have the FREE gift of HOPE extended to them!  This Easter,OneChurch LA along with some other organizations, are taking extending hope and love a little further than I have ever heard before….they are going to go down there, and wash the feet of those in the streets!! I have no words for this. Most people in general do NOT like feet. No , really. Unless you are privy to get to go get pedicures on a regular basis, or blessed with rare pretty feet, most of the human race would not be thrilled with washing someone elses feet. Just sayin…..

Well, let me put it into perspective. They are going to wash the feet of those who others have forgotten their names. Maybe a bar of soap has NOT seen their feet in….weeks, or months…..For someone to come and lovingly do that, could bring some much needed dignity back to someone who feels less, and feels forgotten, and feels like trash. What an amazing gesture of humility and love. Ever heard of the actual ritual of foot-washing? (and no, not at the local spa.)

Here you go ~  “When Jesus had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. `Do you understand what I have done for you?’ He asked them…. `Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet’ ” (John 13: 12, 14)
In the days of dusty roads and open-toed sandals, feet often became dirty, and it was the job of the lowest servants to wash the guests’ feet. But Jesus set an example of service by doing this job Himself!! His actions spoke a silent message of love, that said~

NO JUDGMENT HERE.Image

#ToBeGreatYouMustServe

#WhyNot

courageI just left home. No, I am not 18. I am 57. 🙂 I am moved 3000 miles away. AND it’s my first time ever, to live on my own. My journey thus far ~ from a family home to college. From college to marriage. From marriage to 6 kids. From there, loss of husband, and now empty nest. There is my life in a very small nutshell. So, nope. NEVER lived on my own. Till last Saturday. Just me. 2 heavy suitcases, and 2 carry ons, and “20 seconds of insane courage”! haha! (Favorite movie quote from ‘I Bought A Zoo’.)  🙂

20 seconds to walk on to the plane, to move 3000 miles away. Is this a forever move? Probably not. I am guessing it’s just another chapter in the book of my life. Am I excited? yup! VERY. Am I scared? yup! VERY. Did I  chicken out? NO. 🙂

Telling anyone this, just to say ~ sometimes the only way to break out of your comfort zone, is just to do it. It is so easy to do the easy thing; to stick with what is familiar, and secure. And for sure, there is nothing wrong with that. There are times and seasons where we are meant to stay put, and others when we are meant to do something different/change/move. It takes wisdom to know timing.  If you are a mother of 6 kids, you just can’t decide to up and move away on a great adventure. Definitely NOT time. But, when your 6 kids are on their own, sure! Another quote from ‘I Bought A Zoo’ ~”Why not?”

#BraveOrNot

I am relocating 3000 miles away from where I have lived for, oh….my whole life of 57 years. East coast girl going west! NY to LA. I have people telling me I am so brave…blah blah blah. I don’t feel brave. I don’t think Brave is even a feeling. To me, it is a CHOICE. Kind of like, jumping out of  a plane. Yup, definitely feels like that. Again, remember I am NO spring chicken. A young person who is all of 18 packs his duffle bag, grabs his guitar, a roll of quarters and with hopes and dreams, moves to Nashville. Just a feeling? No. A choice. 

David the shepherd boy probably didn’t FEEL brave when he looked up at Goliath ( you know, the GIANT). He surely felt  very small. (literally) BUT he CHOSE to be brave; to be the ONLY one who would face the giant. He CHOSE to put himself in harms way. He CHOSE to take a risk. (again, key word GIANT. I have visuals of he could have stepped on poor little David). 

We all have moments (or even just ONE), where we can be swallowed up by fear of the unknown, and it can paralyze us from maybe THE greatest moment of our life. David killed Goliath with one.small.stone. One. Small.Stone. He took a risk. He chose to take the road less traveled. (armies of big adult men were standing behind him NOT in support, but quivering in fear). Was David brave? Yes, very much so. But it was a choice to be that way. Not a feeling. The FEELING, I think, came after, when he cut Goliath’s head off !!!!! 🙂

Maybe you want to write a book, go be a singer in Nashville, become a great artist, travel the world, save the dolphin, be a missionary to parts unknown, or just be the best server at Wendys, whatever you choose to do, choose to be BRAVE. 

The definition of BRAVE is ~ “ready to face and endure danger or pain” Or, in some other words, to endure being uncomfortable. Or willing to pay the price. Don’t just hope to feel it, CHOOSE it. In the words of John Wayne ~” Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyways.”

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#MissingPieceOfPuzzle

There are days. No. There are weeks. No. There are YEARS, when you can feel like you just don’t fit in. Period. It is such an insecure place to feel like you just don’t belong anywhere. I think we all feel that way time to time. There are tragedies that can completely change the landscape of your life, and make you feel lost in a place that used to be wonderfully familiar.

I have had some events in my life that have left me unsettled and uprooted, and feeling like I was a random misplaced piece of some random 500 piece puzzle, in some random dusty attic. You do not choose to feel that way; it literally just happens. 

Today it hit me that I am NOT a misplaced piece of a  puzzle. I am a MISSING piece. And not missing from some random puzzle. There is a 500 piece puzzle out there missing just one piece to complete it. Yup, that’d be ME. Somewhere I fit and no one else can fill that spot but me.

The same goes for YOU. We all matter; we all belong; and we are all important. It’s NOT just any random puzzle in some random dusty attic. You were made to fulfill one specific purpose, and to be the piece that links all the other pieces together. Do not ever for a minute think you are not important. If so, you need to go buy a 500 piece puzzle; take ONE piece out and throw it in the trash. Then take a couple weeks to finish the puzzle (in your spare time…), and see how the picture looks, with ONE. MISSING. PIECE. I think you get the picture (no pun intended 🙂 )Image