The Wednesday Writers: Tezlyn Reardon

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (3)

Gentle Reader,

It’s The Wednesday Writers!

No idea what I’m talking about? Read this.

Today we hear from my new blogging buddy, Tezlyn Reardon.

Open Your Eyes and Dream

When you wake up in the morning, what do you see? Do you see the leftover shards of unfinished projects or unsuccessful relationships? Or, maybe you see goals and dreams of years gone by, hopes that you once had but left far behind because, well, “life” happened. Do you fight opening your eyes because you don’t want to face the reality that the movie that has been playing in your mind for the last 8 hours is not real and it probably never will be?

When we were younger we were always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But why did people stop asking? Is there an age when you are supposed to stop believing that you can be anything you want to be? Over the last fifteen years or so, I stopped dreaming. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I could do anything more than what I had been, it was because I got comfortable with where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing with my life. I replaced my dreams with my son’s dreams, my husband’s dreams. I was comfortable, and I didn’t want to get out of the warm, worn in spot in my proverbial bed and risk turning my world upside down when I already had everything I needed or wanted.

In late 2016, my husband left me. My dream became a nightmare, one that I so desperately wanted to wake up from. I couldn’t sleep for months, much less dream of anything that didn’t involve my husband coming back home and my world miraculously falling back together. I didn’t know if I would ever live again the way I had lived for the duration of my relationship with the only man I had ever fallen in love with. How on earth could I find the strength to dream?

A funny thing happened on the way to my own personal hell. I gave my life back to God and I started over. I learned that my dream wasn’t coming to an end, instead, other dreams that had been hibernating inside of me for many years were coming out of their unending slumber. I have said for almost 20 years that I wanted to write a book. In August of 2017, I sent my completed manuscript to a publisher and that book will be distributed on Amazon in early 2018. I’m not saying that I never would have written the book had I still been married, but it might have taken me much longer while I waited for my perfect life to present the perfect timing.

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29:11

It might not have been easy to understand and believe, but these very words have kept me moving forward, allowing me to dream loudly and boldly despite the circumstances. Hope and faith have become standard words in my conversations with myself and others, but it shouldn’t have taken a self-described catastrophe to have larger expectations for my life. It’s not selfish to want more, as a matter of fact, it’s selfish to be content with living a mediocre life. We were created to help one another to grow and thrive, but all of that has been lost in the new-age religion of competitiveness, where we vie to take all that we can get, leaving nothing behind for others. There is abundance for all of us, God never planned for us to be poor or homeless, downtrodden and hopeless. Although He never promised life would be easy, He did promise that we would all be taken care of, that all of our needs would be fulfilled. All we have to do is dream and then believe.

I hope that after reading this blog entry you won’t wait until you are on your deathbed or at the end of your rope before you start to check items off your bucket list. Whatever you have in your heart this very moment, what will it take to make that happen and why are you waiting? There is a man who wants to hear all your hopes and dreams and he wants to give you your heart’s desire. All He asks is that you give him a little bit of your time so that He can tell you about the dreams and purpose He has for your life. If you show your faith and trust in Him, He will show you more favor and mercy than you could have ever imagined in your wildest of dreams. Go ahead, try Him. Dreams are for 5-year olds, and 25-year olds, and 55-year olds, there is no age limit and there is no expiration date.

Dream. Eyes open or closed, but damn it, dream.

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TezlynTezlyn Reardon is the author of 40 Years of Practice, her first published work. Working in marketing analytics for over 10 years, she finally took the leap into developing her real passion, sharing her story with others, something she has felt moved to do since college. Everything happens for a reason is the motto for her life and she is living and learning as she moves through this world, helping others along the way. In addition to writing and speaking, Reardon is actively engaged in the Columbus, Ohio community, participating on several non-profit boards and supporting others who have dreams, but don’t know how to plan or execute them. She is also in the process of developing a new coaching program for those who are struggling to find or hone their purpose in life.

Visit her blog to learn more about Tez, her book and stay up to date with other projects she finds herself getting into!

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The Wednesday Writers: Cody Neal

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (2)

Gentle Reader,

It’s The Wednesday Writers!

No idea what I’m talking about? Read this.

Today we hear from my fellow Society of Evangelical Arminians member, Cody Neal.

Boasting in Christ

The first quarter of 2018 is over. A few months removed from 2017, I reflect.

There are many expectations and hopes that we all have for ourselves and others. If you are anything like me, you probably understand the disappointment in yourself when you feel as though you have not turned out to be the person you wanted to be during the previous year – or that your expectations were not quite met. I admit, I have been disappointed in myself. Whether it be with trying to control my anger and impatience, controlling my tongue, fighting off lustful temptations, and just generally being a man of noble character – I have known disappointment this time around again. I wanted to be so Christlike that I would clearly look back on a year of much improvement, comparatively, to the years before. And maybe there was an improvement in some areas of my life, but, perhaps I have foolishly had the wrong perspective.

One thing is for certain, I am weak, you are weak – we are all weak. Yet a greater truth is that Jesus Christ is not weak. What He did on the cross reveals His strength and righteousness. How beautiful it is that His righteousness has been assigned to us (only by His strength).

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.’

– 1 Corinthians 1:28-31 (NIV)

This shows us that all that humans can boast in, whether it be status, talents, wisdom, or characteristics, is utterly worthless in all that God has done. Our own capacities will fail us and even worse, our confidence in our own capacities will inevitably fail us. So what else do we have to bank on? We must bank on this fact: Christ is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption! Therefore, we must boast (or as in the Greek, glory) in our Christ!

Truth is never novel – it has always “been.” Truth can only be presented in fresh ways. Perhaps you have heard or read something similar to what I have presented so far. If so, then this serves as a reminder – we constantly need reminders. I find this evident in my own life because, after several years of being a Christian, I still find myself baffled at how foolishly I forget the truths of the scriptures. Let this serve us as a reminder for the upcoming year. If there is any hope for our expectations being met this year, let it begin in Christ. In the words of John Wesley:

We must be cut off from dependence upon ourselves, before we can truly depend upon Christ. We must cast away all confidence in our own righteousness, or we cannot have a true confidence in his. Till we are delivered from trusting in anything that we do, we cannot thoroughly trust in what he has done and suffered. First, we receive the sentence of death in ourselves: Then, we trust in Him that lived and died for us.

I believe Wesley hit the nail on the head. We must quit selfishly placing our confidence in ourselves, it only leads to selfish disappointment. Yes, we will mess up, but have we forgotten the truths of the scriptures? Christ has become our righteousness! It is by His righteousness that we have been saved. And to be saved is to be a child of God.

I’ll close with this. Jesus told His disciples they must become like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, and likewise, that applies to us. (Matthew 18:1-5) Do you believe that you are a child of God? If so, then start living into that fact this year. When I was a young kid, I remember being a huge Spiderman fan. I was such a fan that I remember “playing Spiderman” out in the backyard and attaching multiple belts around my waist and to the top of a large dog kennel gate to act like I was swinging around like Spiderman does. That definitely was not as glorious as the films or comics portrayed, nevertheless, the inspiration was so strong that I tried any way I could to be like him. Likewise, I wonder what it would be like to have that kind of childlike inspiration from Jesus? Granted, Jesus is obviously far more important and real than the Spiderman character.

I’m still trying to figure out how to live into what Jesus says in Matthew 18:1-5. What I do know is that we are called to be utterly dependent on Christ. This year, let us remember the scriptures, remember what Christ has done, and remember who He has become for us. Let us boast (perhaps externally and internally,) “This is who my Christ is! This is what He does! So I want to be like Him!” And as the old saying goes, “The rest…will take care of itself.”

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Cody currently resides in Wilmore, KY with his wife, Mary (and their three crazy cats). He enjoys reading, guitars, baseball, and is passionate about the Wesleyan tradition. He currently holds bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is in the process of earning a Master of Divinity degree at Asbury Theological Seminary.

 

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The Wednesday Writers: Carol Emmert

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (1)

Gentle Reader,

It’s The Wednesday Writers!

No idea what I’m talking about? Read this.

Today we hear from my new blogging buddy, Carol Emmert.

Mom Needs a Sick Day

One of the hardest things for our families to hear is this: Mom needs a sick day.

This phrase may have struck fear in your own heart a time or two. It is often Mom who holds all the little pieces of the day together, and keeps the family moving like a well-oiled machine, so having a mom who is down for the count seems tragic. But it does not have to be a tragedy – it can be a time  for everyone else to practice their skills, and a time to appreciate what Mom normally does every day.

When children are little they rely on their parents for almost everything, as they should. But by the time they are six or seven, children should be learning how to do some of their own chores, and learning some basic self-care skills. If parents take a little bit of time each week to teach their children some basic household skills, the home will run much more smoothly – even when mom is sick. A small child who has learned how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on their own can be a huge help around the house. If they can brush their teeth by themselves- even better! If your ten year old knows how to make mac & cheese or scrambled eggs, they can feed your family for a week if necessary. If your teens know how to run the washing machine and clean the bathroom, even if it is not done quite as wells when mom does it, then dad can spend his time focusing on taking care of his sick wife, going to work, and bathing the toddler before bed.

The best way to not dread the phrase Mom needs a sick day is to be prepared for it. Everyone gets sick sometime – even mom. So make a plan for what you will do when mom does need a sick day, or for the time when she needs to take care of someone else – like Grandma and Grandpa. Sit down and make a list of age-appropriate chores and cooking skills for each child. Then make a family plan for the next few months and work on learning how to do them well. Not only will this help when mom is sick, it also makes it easier to clean the house before last-minute guests arrive, or before you want to head out of town for the weekend.

For those times when mom really does need a sick day, have some bottled water, some herbal tea, and some crackers on hand. If mom can make it to the couch, surely your five year old will be happy to share his crackers, and his favorite cartoon with her. Then your ten year old can make her some tea, or chicken soup for lunch. Rally around mom when she is sick. Show her how much you appreciate her by caring for her, and cleaning up after yourselves. Moms are usually quick to recover, and with some practice, the family machine will still be running when she does.

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Carol-headshot

 


Carol writes at Home Sweet Life. She shares snippets of everyday life while homeschooling high school, plus her family
s love for Jesus, road trips and adventure.

 

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The Wednesday Writers: Lisa Brittain

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

It’s The Wednesday Writers!

No idea what I’m talking about? Read this.

Today we hear from my friend Lisa Brittain. (Post written in December 2017).

Welcome to Our Real

I didn’t feel like decorating the house for Christmas.  In fact, without all the exterior cues – store shelves stocked with Christmas, houses lit up, and city light poles decked in festive notifications – I would have barely noticed the season was upon me.  It was the sudden recognition I would soon be on Thanksgiving vacation, which squarely slapped me into reality. Christmas is almost here and it would happen with or without me.

The weekend after Thanksgiving I began dutifully pulling boxes up out of the basement.  It was simply time management.  Do it now or don’t do it at all.  Along the way, I opened each tote to peek at the contents.  My intent was to look for the bare essentials.  “There’s nothing wrong with a minimalist Christmas,” I continually assured myself.  My husband agreed, “Just enough so no one thinks we’re ‘skipping Christmas” – a reference to one of our favorite holiday movies, Christmas With The Kranks.

Please don’t leave… This isn’t an indictment of Christmas or the American way.  It’s not a judgment on those who are enjoying a festive season.  Please don’t feel or receive any condemnation for your choice to love Santa and display the Nativity.  

The peeking led to digging through and pulling up thirty years of Christmas memories.  Our walk down memory lane felt like an extension of Thanksgiving.  Both my husband and I benefitted from the activity.  Each uncovered item testified to the wealth we possess in family relationships, the full variety of life seasons and rich experiences of our past.

Though I had not the enthusiasm for producing a traditional Hallmark kind of Christmas around our house, I also had no intention of pretending Christmas was a figment of everyone’s imagination.  My heart yearned for the celebration of The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  The tug of war was and still is, real and intense.  I wonder, in a Charlie Brown kind of way, is this really all there is – commercialism, Pinterest worthy presentations and perfect pictures posted on social media, even giving to every conceivable cause known to man?

I would love to feel festive right about now.  It would be a relief to my soul to feel a sudden urge to don a pair of Christmas socks and gaudy Christmas sweater as official garb for baking Christmas cookies for our entire neighborhood.  Perhaps if I could feel the giddy joy of doing the stuff, it would signify a much-desired change of life seasons – out of the desert and into a lush meadow.

For this moment in time though, it would be fake.  In fact, our precious neighbor saw me outside putting red and white and gold shiny ornaments on our Dogwood tree.  Passing by she mentioned, “You must be feeling festive.”  I looked her straight in the eye, this one whose husband passed away in March just the day before my mother in law walked into Jesus’ welcoming arms, and responded truthfully, “No, I’m truly not.”  I saw relief flood her countenance as she confessed her lack of desire to set up her Christmas tree, which sat in a box in the living room.

Often, my heart screams out to the Lord, and sometimes to my husband, “I don’t know how to do this! I’ve never lived here before. Help me…”

I don’t understand Parkinson’s Disease.  And guess what, medical professionals don’t really understand it either.  We never saw it coming.  Too young, my man, to be hampered with such a life-altering, energy draining, and uncertain disease.  I don’t want to welcome PD into our lives.  In fact, I want to slam the door shut, and shout at the top of my lungs, “There’s no room in this inn!”

A new normal?  Sure, I get it.  Why not us?  Awful life circumstances happen to people every day. Younger older, richer and poorer, the ones who mean well, and those who don’t.

Just tell me the rules.  Where are we on the game board?  How do we avoid the pitfalls?  Did we somehow land on the square indicating we have start over?

Ok, so we can start over.  We have each other, and relationships with people who love us.  So, how do we start over?  And how do we move forward?  Because my man needs to work.  He loves to work.  So, we pray. “Lord, we’re asking for a path and an open door… Your Light to show us the new way in which You are leading…”

Surely, this is a grieving season.  We exhibit all the symptoms of grieving the death of a dream… the death of our vision for our future.  That’s what it is for me – the realization life isn’t going to be for us as we hoped and dreamed.  This is easier for me.  I’m the optimist in the family, and I’m not the biggest loser.

For my husband, the loss has been overwhelming.  First the diagnosis.  Then the job loss.  Now three years in, we are questioning the resurrection of his career.  During the same three years, his mother languished in hospice.  Her strong heart refused to quit after the stroke took the rest of her capacity for living.  Now she is with Jesus, for which we are abundantly grateful.

He’s not quite Job, though Job is frequently mentioned around our home.  I remind my man often, “I’m not leaving.”  We’ll learn to do this new normal together.  Our lives are full of blessings for which we are daily reminded to be grateful. 

My suntanned feet man having grown up in church and regularly fed on the Word of God from a young age, he knows the right answers.  Yet, somehow in the tremendous pit of pain and darkness, black writing on white pages isn’t enough.  He is in need of the real presence of God holding him, catching his tears and listening to his brokenhearted questions.

This Christmas, this is where we’re living.  I want real.  My insides are clawing for an understanding of what it really means to welcome the King of Kings and Lord of Lords into our home.  What if Joseph had come knocking at our door, his wife about to give birth?  Would we help them… give them a place to rest… watched as she birthed the Word incarnate?  Would we have believed Mary’s story?  The real of what God selected them to do was messy and hard and heartbreaking and lonely at times. 

My method for regaining equilibrium – finding my bearings in unsettling circumstances – is to ask myself questions: “What do I do when I don’t know what to do?”  And then I answer myself: “Go back, Lisa, to what you know is true.”

I go back to tried and true Scripture for a foundation.  Lately, I’ve found comfort in the 37th psalm.  As I read it again and again, I feel peace wash away the fear and anxious thoughts.  Here it is simply stated:

Trust in Him.  Do good.  Dwell in the land.  Enjoy safe pasture.  Delight myself in Him.  Commit my way to Him.  Trust Him.  Be still before the Lord and wait for Him. 

– Psalm 37:3-7, paraphrased

Other times I go back even further to where I started with God.  That time in college when He found me in the deepest pit of despair.  All was dark and I had no power to fix anything.  In the depth of my soul, I was simply trying to disappear.  I didn’t call it ‘wanting to die’, but my behaviors were leading me in the direction of death.

But God had His eye on me – many loved ones were praying, I now feel sure.  One night, in a dream, the most trustworthy person I could imagine, my great-grandma Becky, sat on the edge of my bed and spoke simple truth to my aching heart.  I dreamed it, yes, and please don’t make it weird. 

God spoke into the deep darkness His rescue plan for me.  When I awoke, I knew three things:  1) God loved me  2) He had a good plan for my life  3) I needed to follow Him.  This was the unlikely and humble place of God choosing and calling little me to be His ambassador and receive the mission He has for my life.

Perhaps this is the heart connection I have with Mary – not that God pulled her out of a pit, but that He sent a messenger to personally meet with her.  She knew when Gabriel left, stunned as she must have been, she had been chosen by God for His purpose.  Surely, she had more questions than answers. 

The real of her situation was that God’s calling put her reputation on the line.  Suddenly, Joseph was forced to choose between what seemed a plausible betrayal and the glorious gift of God.  The couple had to have been reeling as they too may have grieved the death of a dream for their lives.  Nothing would be as they planned at the beginning of their betrothal.

Yet, God intervened.  He confirmed to Joseph the truth of Mary’s situation.  They were affirmed in their calling.  Step by step, they lived the current day, no longer certain of what the future held for them.  They chose faith.  Trust.  Hope.  Obedience.  And God was there with them.  God, the Father, led the way.  He, the Son of God, came to live with them. 

With all my questions, I’m certain of this: 

The real of Christmas was hard, scary, uncertain and raw.  And out of darkness, the Light shone confirming the truth of God’s word and His presence with us.  Emmanuel, welcome to our real…

Ponders:

What about you, friend?  Are you seeking the real face of God in the middle of your circumstances?  I pray you will, like me, simply pour out your questions.  Be real with Him.  He knows.  He sees.  He’s been in every feeling, thought and circumstance alongside you.

  • What comfort do you find in the real of Scripture?
  • How might the real of your circumstances add Light to your celebration of Christmas this year?

Eyes on Jesus…you’re shining!

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Lisa Brittain CBS profileLisa Brittain and her husband, Randy, will soon be married 30 years.  Together they are parents of two adult sons, and share their home with three adopted pups. By day Lisa works as a receptionist in the local middle school. However, her mission is to reveal the important voice of each woman and teach her how to share her overcoming God stories.  It is Lisa’s true passion for Jesus and introducing women to Him, which flows in and through and around all the open moments of her everyday life.

Connect with Lisa on her blog, Eyes on Jesus and Shine, or on social media (Instagram / Twitter  / Tumblr)

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