God puts great gifts inside of funny packages

By the midlife domestic goddess (for the Whatever girls site)

I am currently enrolled in on-line classes at Portland Bible College and while listening to a lecture in one of my classes my Professor, Pastor Frank Damazio, said something that really stuck with me.  He said, “God puts great gifts inside of funny packages”.

To the teens out there, especially you junior high age girls, I remember what it was like. I was already hard enough trying to deal with the changes in my body, I got sick to top things off.  I woke up one morning in Jr. high and I was swollen.  Now I don’t mean just a little swollen, I mean stay puff marshmallow man kind of swollen.  Most of you won’t younger girls won’t know what that is so I’ll insert my picture now.

I had gained over 20 pounds of water weight in less than 24 hours.  My cheeks were so big it made my eyes squint.  My mom had me into the Doctors office so fast and from there I was on to a specialist.  Before I knew it I was lying in hospital bed and there I would stay for a week until they could get my kidneys under control. My kidneys were working backwards for lack of an easier way to explain it.  I was retaining salt when I should have been releasing it. The doctors were actually afraid my kidneys could fail.

This lead to a yearlong diet of NO SALT.  Salt is in everything young kids like to eat which means my diet stunk.  It also meant that I had to go on high dosages of steroids for almost 2 years.  The steroids made me puff up all over again and they made my red hair huge and frizzy.  I was already teased for having red hair so the frizz only made me feel even more awkward.  I know there may some young ladies reading this today and you may also feel awkward in your body right now or maybe you have been made to feel bad about yourself because of the rude remarks of others.

I understand those same kinds of feelings. I was a funny package on the outside but the truth is that God puts the best gifts in the funniest packages and it is those gifts that outshine any outward beauty.  As a teen I was not in a relationship with God like I am now.  I knew he existed and I said my prayers now and than but I had no idea just how special and beautiful I was to him.  Inside that awkward package that I was, there were the gifts of laughter, friendship, loyalty, and kindness.  In the years to come I would find my way into a deeper relationship with God. In my walk I have learned some very important things. For example I now see that God is not interested in how we look from the outside. He is concerned with how we look from the inside.  God is concerned with the condition of our hearts.  If you are feeling like a funny package on the outside remember this…. so are most of the other kids your age.  The sad thing is some of them don’t realize just how special they are so they conform to the world’s idea of beauty.

You don’t need to be like that. Don’t waste your time trying to look beautiful in the eyes of the world, let your beauty come from what is within. Psalms 139:14 is a perfect verse to claim for yourself.  Learn it and remember it. Let the truth in the verse speak to your heart.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

As I said before, God puts great gifts inside of funny packages.  Never forget to share your gifts.  Let them spill out of you and be a blessing to all those who are around you.  Also, do not let the comments of others bring you down because you are of royal blood. Jesus Christ the King of Kings lives in you and you are perfect just the way you are.  My fuzzy hair is now gone along with my puffiness but one thing is still the same.  I am still full of laughter, friendship, kindness and loyalty.  God has also filled me with many other gifts and when I look in the mirror I still see the same funny package and I am happy with who I am.  I hope you are happy with yourself too.

Originally Posted on the Whatever girls page.  Be sure to check out their page


My refueling station…The Bible

CassiesCornerButtonBy Cassie’s Corner

Knowing that God made me to do life according to His calling, I find rest and strength in His word. To be refueled for lifeʼs more tasking moments and having only short spurts of time to do a devotional can make it difficult to spend “enough” time studying each day. I was 20 years old when I truly dedicated my life to the Lord. I was a college student averaging 18 credits, a 25-32 hour a week employee, and volunteered as a leader at Generation Church. I was overwhelmed and overdone with little time to myself, let alone, any time to worship or read my Bible. I needed a remedy and quickly, so I had a conversation with God.

photoNot long after my simple prayer asking for help, I was shown something amazing; an old trick my friend called a Rabbit Trail. This Rabbit Trail was a special tool to help me dig in fast and retrieve specific verses to reference when I needed them. Amazingly, one verse led to a series of reference verses, that led to other verses and definitions and explorations. In these trails, I found my way of refueling in His word everyday. Even now, 15 years later as a stay at home mother and wife, I find myself crazy busy and short on time and often needing to journey down a Rabbit Trail now and then. I love my life and my family; however, I have learned that if my spiritual tank is empty then my virtue tank is bone dry and that just isnʼt good for anyone. I try to pick a verse each day as a resource for when I need to refocus on Him and the tasks at hand. Then, when all is quiet, even for only a moment, I can read that verse, find a reference in my Study Bible, and all else fades away. My favorite thing about following these fuzzy, sometimes long trails is simply this; Godʼs word is our life bread. When we are entangled in the ups and downs of life as mothers, wives, college students or whatever other hats we wear, these trails can lead us to a deeper understanding of Godʼs love for us. A quick 15 minutes can reset our perspective and jump start our attitudes. My Bible is my one-stop shopping place; everything I need for everyday is right at my finger tips, waiting to be discovered. Here is an example of a Rabbit Trail:

Matthew 4:4 states, “It is written: ʻMan does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.ʼ” This leads to Luke 4:4, which essentially says the same thing. However, the verse in Luke brings us back to Deuteronomy 8:3, showing the connections between the Old and New Testaments, and how Godʼs word is the same yesterday, today, and forever

Jump into God’s word and get going on your own rabbit trail of refueling


My identity, His Glory

I am so excited to have Dawn as our first guest writer.  This midlife domestic goddess is so excited for you to her amazing words.

I guess introductions are in order; I am Dawn Marie Turner and I have been a pastor of 13 years. For the last four years I have been at two churches in Missouri. Before that I worked with youth and had been employed at the family’s funeral home. Eastern Washington is where I have called home for 44 of my 48 years. We have a total of seven children that we have raised; ages are 39, 28, 26, 22, 20, 12 and 8 that have blessed our lives. It is a “his, mine, foster and adopted-kind of family”. We now only have two living in our home. I am married to a great man of God who has stood with by my side in so many ways and this December we will celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary.

We all have many identities we go by. Many titles we answer too. The titles I carry are wife, mother, daughter, sister, pastor, child of God and the latest title stroke survivor. Some I enjoy, some I am called to be, and others carry a weight.

My latest title has been stroke survivor. I had two strokes to my brain stem. One on June 28 and the other July 5. I am blessed to have survived and to be whom and what I am. The strokes have made me a different person than I was in June. There are struggles to walk and use my left side and arm. God does have a sense of humor as he has left me with the gift of speech. I think my husband might have enjoyed a few more months of quiet.972755_10151769818418992_2021631322_n

It has been a struggle, as I have had to learn how to redress myself. I have a new sport I play called bra aerobics. I don’t often win at it and get stuck in some precarious positions. Recently I had to pack away 3 bins of gorgeous high heels. Anyone who knows me knows how painful that was, for a while part of my identity was wrapped in being the pastor who wore the great shoes and boots. I now am the Converse queen.

I have had to learn different ways to parent. Sometimes letting the small stuff go and picking my battles. I have had to learn different ways to work and make sure that my 60 hour work weeks became 20 to 25 hour work weeks plus Sunday. I have had to look at which nonprofits I feel called to serve with and cut back on some. There has been a learning process to not be ashamed to ask for prayers for myself. And there is power in prayer. Let that be repeated.  There is power in prayer!!

One of the things I have had to learn is that my identity as a wife was not wrapped around cooking, cleaning and laundry. Also, I had to learn I don’t have to be the strong one and it is okay to ask for help. My husband can make a meal, sweep the floor and put the laundry in the washing machine and the dryer. Those are a few other things learned. Not one of us have died of food poisoning or had our clothes turn pink.

I have learned to laugh; when finding myself on the floor or finding the invible cracks that make me stumble, when my body tightens up on one side, when there is involuntary spasms and twitches at Walmart in the frozen food aisle, when stuck in the bathtub and hollering for help, or when trying to cut that apple and it goes all over the place.  I have learned to laugh at the situations instead of crying. Don’t get me wrong there are times when it is necessary to have good, cleansing, cry fest. The times of laughter are greater however.

I am learning a lot. Learning or re-learning to rest in God’s grace and to use all I am and all I have become to His glory.  Learning that I am a new creation and as I heal more and more that I am being reformed into His creation. I have learned all things and I do mean ALL things can be used for His glory.  I will hold onto that truth and onto his word always.

But God shows undeserved kindness to everyone. That’s why he appointed Christ Jesus to choose you to share in his eternal glory. You will suffer for a while, but God will make you complete, steady, strong, and firm. 1 Peter 5:10