Who I Would Like to Meet Part Three: Kelly Ripa

Someone recently asked me a very simple question that I have been thinking about a lot lately.  It wasn’t a question that would really change the world, and it wasn’t a question that men have pondered for generations, but it was a question that has replayed in my mind over and over again. The question was, “If you could meet any five people in the world, who would they be?”  When the question was asked, I didn’t have to give it much thought. I quickly rattled off the five names of the people I would most like to meet.  Those five people were: Doris Day, Joanna Gaines, Kelly Ripa, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton.  

Like all good questions, there was a follow up question:  “Why those five people?”  Now, I have to admit, this is the question that I have been thinking a lot about.  I answered not long after the question was asked, but I have continued to think about why I said those five people.  What is it about these people that I am drawn to?  What do they have in common? What makes them special?  I am going to do my best to answer those questions, and hopefully I will learn a little bit more about myself in the process.  

Kelly Ripa

The very first time I saw Kelly Ripa was on Thanksgiving Day 1990.  The actually date was November 22nd.  I was watching my favorite daytime drama, All My Children, when Kelly Ripa burst on to the scene wearing a jet black, long wig and clothes to match.  Looking back on it now, it seems like an unlikely “meeting” of someone whom I would eventually come to admire and who would land on my top five people I would like to meet list, but that was my first introduction to Kelly Ripa.  

I had been watching All My Children since 1978.  For those of you trying to figure out how old I was, I will save you the time doing the math; I was five years old.  My mom would watch All My Children when she ate lunch, and since I was not yet in school, I would watch right along with her.  Seems like a strange thing for a five-year-old little boy to watch, but I really did love the show.  It was a love that lasted until the show was cancelled in 2011.  I literally grew up watching All My Children, and as far as I can tell no damage was done.  

Anyway, I digress so let’s get back to Kelly Ripa.  Kelly’s character, Haley Vaughn, became one of my favorite characters to watch, and I was not alone.  Haley was a very popular character on the show, and she and I were about the same age.  Kelly is actually 2 years and one month older than I am.  She was born on October 2, 1970 and I was born on November 2, 1972.  I watched Kelly for over ten years as Haley Vaughn, and saw her face some harrowing situations, but I always pulled for her.  I would videotape All My Children, and it was the first thing I would watch when I return from high school, then college, and then teaching.  All My Children and Kelly Ripa were constants in my life and something I could always depend on, and watching that show, as strange as it may sound, brought me a lot of joy and peace.  

Then on November 1, 2000, I was able to see a different side of Kelly Ripa.  This was the first time that she co-hosted Live! with Regis Philbin.  I was amazed by what I saw.  Kelly was hilarious.  She was friendly, welcoming, and quick-witted.  She made the television screen explode in a way that I had never seen anyone else do.  I loved her sense of humor and laughed out loud repeatedly, something that I rarely do when I am watching television.  

I think Regis Philbin summed it up perfectly in is autobiography, How I Got This Way.  He said: 

“There was one guest we'd had on with us a few years before who had [a certain sparkle]. Hers was a natural, quick-witted, unaffected, confident, fun-loving kind of sparkle that both Gelman and I remembered very well. We decided to invite her back, this time to consider her as a possible co-host. So that was when this smiling, petite ball of fire named Kelly Ripa made her return to Live! for a test run at the rotating, up-for-grabs hot seat to my left. And my God, who knew what spontaneous combustion we'd make together?” 

On February 5, 2001, Kelly become the permanent co-host on Live! and soon I began taping the show just to see more of Kelly Ripa.  I cannot tell you how much joy watching Kelly on Live! gave me.  There were many evenings when I was single and living alone that I would come home from school and watch Kelly and Regis.  She truly made me laugh.  I love people who can make me laugh, and Kelly has the type of sense of humor that I love the most.  She can be sarcastic and dry.  She has a quick comeback to any of the guests or the hosts with whom she is paired.  Seeing her and watching her on television just makes me smile.  

Thinking about it now, I realize that her sense of humor and comedic timing reminded me of my grandma.  Seeing Kelly exchange witty comments with people reminds me of the relationship that my grandma and I had.  We were always trying to “one-up” each other and nothing made us happier than when we could make each other laugh.   

I am not certain if I will ever meet Kelly Ripa, but if I do, you can bet I will tell her all about my grandma and the laughter that she brought into my life.  I will also thank Kelly for all the laughter that she brought into my life.  That is the thing that many of us forget.  God equipped us with a sense of humor and gave us the ability to laugh, because He knew that having that ability would make life so much easier and a lot more fun.  When we laugh and see the humor in the world, we will have more peace in our hearts and PEACE MATTERS!   

~Dan~

Who I Would Like to Meet Part Two: Joanna Gaines

Someone recently asked me a very simple question that I have been thinking about a lot lately.  It wasn’t a question that would really change the world, and it wasn’t a question that men have pondered for generations, but it was a question that has replayed in my mind over and over again. The question was, “If you could meet any five people in the world, who would they be?”  When the question was asked, I didn’t have to give it much thought. I quickly rattled off the five names of the people I would most like to meet.  Those five people were: Doris Day, Joanna Gaines, Kelly Ripa, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton.  

Like all good questions, there was a follow up question:  “Why those five people?”  Now, I have to admit, this is the question that I have been thinking a lot about.  I answered not long after the question was asked, but I have continued to think about why I said those five people.  What is it about these people that I am drawn to?  What do they have in common? What makes them special?  I am going to do my best to answer those questions, and hopefully I will learn a little bit more about myself in the process.  

Joanna Gaines  

I had never heard of Joanna Gaines until almost two years ago.  I became aware of Joanna Gaines at a time when I needed joy the most.  I first saw her on Thanksgiving Day 2014.  I was alone in the house and I had the TV on, something I rarely do. I had just had a very difficult year and things were starting to improve, but I still had a long way to go. I had been struggling for so long with life and I was tired and uninspired. The TV was in the family room and I was in the kitchen doing something. Suddenly I heard this voice say something about a farmhouse sink. I was drawn to the voice and walked into the family room and there on the screen was Joanna Gaines.  I sat down and watched her and immediately felt some kind of connection.  I know that sounds crazy, but that is exactly how I felt.  

I had stumbled upon a Fixer Upper marathon, and I sat most of the day becoming more and more wrapped up in what was going on on my television screen. After that day, I began researching Joanna Gaines.  I always do this.  If I am introduced to someone I like, I try to learn as much about them as I can.  I learned that Joanna was from Waco, Texas and that she and her husband, Chip, had four children and that Joanna had had all sorts of dreams for her life.  She wondered if her dreams would ever come true. I learned that HGTV had found her through her blog, and I learned that she had a store called Magnolia Market. 

Then one day, out of the blue, my friend Diane asked me if I had ever seen the video of Joanna’s testimony.  I had not seen it, but as soon as I could, I found it on YouTube and watched it.  As I listened to Joanna’s testimony, I soon realized why I had been drawn to her.  She explained how she felt like she had never fit in because of how she looked.  Her father was Caucasian and her mother was Korean.  She talked about how her feelings of loneliness and isolation were “The enemy’s” way of making her feel less than she was.  She spoke of how she heard from God and how He talked to her and told her that she had a calling on her life.  Then she looked directly at the screen and said, “You have a calling on your life” and I felt as if she were speaking directly to me because so many of the things that Joanna had experienced in her life I had experienced in mine.  

She felt like she was less because of whom she was.  She felt like people would not accept her because she was different, and I had always felt the same way.  She was not afraid to say that God speaks to us and she was not afraid to say that she recognizes His voice.  This touched a special chord in my life, because my grandma had always told me the same thing, and I knew that they were both right.  God does speak to all of us. Even when we do not realize it is Him, He is speaking to us.  You see, every positive thought you have and every positive word you hear is God speaking directly to you.  It really is that simple.  

So we all hear directly from God, and we should never, ever doubt that for a minute.  Unfortunately we are often afraid to say that God speaks to us because we are concerned that people will think that we are crazy or that we think we are better than they are, but that is just Satan’s way of trying to silence us.  Joanna was not afraid to say that God speaks to her and guides her life, and I admire her for that so much.  Her designs and caring ways bring so much joy and happiness to other people’s lives, and God has given her a platform to make the world a better place full of more joy and peace.  

I am not sure if I will ever meet Joanna Gaines, but I will always be thankful for that Thanksgiving Day that I was first introduced to her.  I will always be thankful for hearing Joanna’s testimony because it gives me the courage to continue to do the things that God is asking me to do.  When we do our best to follow God and to listen for His voice, we will have more peace in our lives and PEACE MATTERS!

~Dan~

Who I Would Like to Meet Part One: Doris Day

Someone recently asked me a very simple question that I have been thinking about a lot lately.  It wasn’t a question that would really change the world, and it wasn’t a question that men have pondered for generations, but it was a question that has replayed in my mind over and over again. The question was, “If you could meet any five people in the world, who would they be?”  When the question was asked, I didn’t have to give it much thought. I quickly rattled off the five names of the people I would most like to meet.  Those five people were: Doris Day, Joanna Gaines, Kelly Ripa, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton.  

Like all good questions, there was a follow up question:  “Why those five people?”  Now, I have to admit, this is the question that I have been thinking a lot about.  I answered not long after the question was asked, but I have continued to think about why I said those five people.  What is it about these people that I am drawn to?  What do they have in common? What makes them special?  I am going to do my best to answer those questions, and hopefully I will learn a little bit more about myself in the process.  

Doris Day

I was first introduced to Doris Day by my grandma.  It was just in passing really.  She just said, “I love Doris Day.  I always thought she had a wonderful voice.”  With those simple words, I started trying to find out more about this person.  This has become a lifelong quest to find out more about someone whom my grandma admired.  I quickly realized what all the fuss was about when I watched my first Doris Day movie, Pillow Talk.  I sat glued to the screen looking at this beautiful young woman with the blondest hair that I had ever seen.  To say I was enamored would be an understatement. I was enthralled by her.  There was something very special about her and I could not learn enough about her career.  

During the years that followed, I watched most of her movies and walked away feeling good about the world in which I lived.  Seeing her smile and be funny made my heart feel joy.  When I purchased my first Doris Day album, I listened to it over and over again and could not help but experience all the same emotions I felt when I had seen her on the screen.  Her voice was pure and honest.  She has an emotional quality in her voice which makes it feel as if she is sitting right beside you singing only to you.  

Then I started reading about her.  I learned that her father had left her and her mother when Doris was very young.  I learned that she was a dancer, but her dreams were shattered because of a car accident.  I learned that she loved animals and was accepting of all people.  I learned that she stood by her good friend Rock Hudson when he was dying of AIDS.  She did this without judgment and without feeling superior.  She did this out of love.  She understood that love is the answer to all of our problems, and I realized that she and my grandma were very similar.  They both knew that life is full of ups and downs, but they both were able to put a smile on their face, and in the process they made other people smile and feel better.

Thinking about it further, I realize that Doris Day and my grandma actually served very similar purposes in my life.  They both brought me joy, they made me laugh, they showed me how to live, and they proved to me that anything is possible.

I am not sure if I will ever meet Doris Day, but I do know that if it is in God’s plan for me to meet her I will.  If I have learned anything in this life I have learned that anything is possible and just when we think there is no hope something miraculous will happen and we will see just how powerful God is.  I certainly am thankful that my grandma mentioned Doris Day to me all those years ago because I would have missed out on so much happiness in life had she not.  Leave it to my grandma to always be looking out for me even when she wasn’t sure of what she was doing.  

When we show love, compassion, and acceptance of all the creatures and people God has placed on this earth, there will be more peace in the world and PEACE MATTERS!

~Dan~

Loving Yourself

All of our lives we have all been taught that we should love one another.  We have been taught this in our homes, by our churches, and in our schools.  We have been taught that it is the key to our happiness and that it will bring peace to the world.  While this is completely true and a very valuable lesson to learn, we often leave one person out, ourselves.  Many of us have never been taught that we should love ourselves.  My grandma once told me that we can never love someone until we first love ourselves.  When she told me this, I realized that I had really never thought about loving myself.  As the years have gone by, I have realized how important this is.  God does want us to love others.  He thinks it is very important, but He wants us to love ourselves too.  After all, He created us and if we do not love ourselves, it makes Him very sad.  

Many of us have been taught that if we love ourselves too much that we will become conceited and only think about ourselves.  We obviously want to avoid that, but there is nothing wrong with loving yourself and thinking that you are a good person.  We are supposed to be an example to the rest of the world.  We are supposed to show others how to live by example.  How can we do that if we do not love ourselves?  

We are often our own worst critic. We never think what we do is good enough.  We never think we look good enough, work hard enough, or are talented enough.  God made us in His image, and He gave all of us unique and wonderful qualities that He did not give anyone else.  He wants us to use those qualities and gifts to serve Him and our fellow man.  When we go around being critical of ourselves and thinking that we do not measure up, we cannot be a service to God or others.  Often God will ask us to do things to serve Him or other people.  If we do not have the confidence that we should, we will not listen to Him or in many cases we will tell him that we are not capable of doing what He is asking us to do. When we do not obey the voice of God when He speaks to us, we are not only denying someone else a blessing, but we are missing out on a blessing ourselves.   

You see when we follow God and do what He asks He will bless us.  So, if we do not love ourselves and feel confident in our abilities, we cannot be of service to others.  Sometimes God asks us to do things that are difficult for us.  He wants to challenge us because through those challenges, we grow.  It builds our confidence, and it helps us appreciate the gifts that we have.  We realize that we do have a purpose and that God can and will use us to serve Him, help others, and in turn help ourselves.  

So, the next time you are feeling like you are not good enough or you feel your confidence failing, look yourself in the mirror and say, “God created me in His own image.  He has given me gifts and talents that no one else has, and I can be a service to God and my fellow man.”  I believe that if we can do this and really believe it, it will make us better people.  It will put us in a better position to answer God’s call, which will bring us joy and peace, and PEACE MATTERS.     

~Dan~

God's Bridges

Many people think that when we are walking on the path that God has intended for us that we will never encounter a situation that is difficult.  It is true that when we are following God’s plan for us that life will be easier; however, there will be times when the path will be difficult to navigate.  There will be times when we feel like we have reached a dead end and we feel we have nowhere else to go.  These times can be very scary, and we can become discouraged.  These are the times in life that we need to cling to God even more.  It is during these times that God will create a bridge for us to cross.  When we come to a bridge along the path, we may once again be filled with fear, but God wants us to trust Him and to cross the bridge with confidence and faith that He will safely lead us to the other side.  

While crossing the bridge God wants us to keep our eyes on Him.  He wants us to trust Him and not look down.  Looking down will fill us with fear, and we will begin to question God with “what ifs”.  When we do this, we may become so afraid that we stop or may even stumble and fall.  God wants us to put all of our trust in Him.  There are times when crossing the bridge is so scary that we may be tempted to take our own path to avoid the bridge.  If we choose to do this, we will find that the journey is more difficult than it was intended to be.  It will take us longer to arrive at our destination, and once we get there we may realize that we are at the wrong place.  You see, the bridges that God has made for us are often His way of making a way where there seems to be no way.  He is providing a way for us to transcend situations that will cause us to worry and cause us pain. The bridge can and will keep us from walking straight into obstacles that would otherwise be in our path.  

Sometimes God will build the bridges for us and sometimes He will give us the materials and the plan to build our own bridge.  The only thing we really need to do is have faith that God knows what He is doing and be obedient to Him.  When we do this in all situations, there is nothing to be afraid of and we have no reason to worry.   I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to listen as God speaks to your heart.  He will never lead you in the wrong direction because He really does want what is best for us.    

So, the next time you encounter a bridge, and trust me you will, have the courage and the faith to cross it.  Cross it even when you do not understand why you have to cross it.  Let God be your guide and know that He has a plan for your life.  Take God’s hand and look straight ahead.  Do not look down and do not look back.  Keep your eyes on God.  He will lead you and help you avoid all the obstacles along the way.  All you have to do is trust Him and accept the peace that comes from knowing He has everything under control because PEACE MATTERS.    

~Dan~

The Quest for Peace: Part Four

There are many ways for us to achieve peace in our lives, and I have written about several of those ways in different posts.  God has given all of us certain interests and gifts, and when we participate in those interests, we find ourselves being at peace.  Working with our hands and creating something is one of the best ways to calm our nerves and feed our spirits.  There is something satisfying about creating things with our own two hands that gives us a feeling of satisfaction.  God has given us these interests to help us find more joy in our lives and feel like we are accomplishing something, even when we feel as if we are standing still.  

One activity that brings me a sense of peace and accomplishment is stitching.  For me, there is something about taking a blank piece of fabric and creating something beautiful with it.  I also love the repetitive motion that stitching provides, and it is sometimes amazing to me to see what a whole lot of Xs can create when placed in an appropriate pattern.  

So today I thought I would take a break from my normal posts and show you a few of the samplers that I have made over the years.  When I am stitching, I am only thinking about stitching, and the stresses of my daily life seem to fade away.  When I am finished, I have a sense of accomplishment and when I look at the sampler that I made, I feel happy and at peace.  God wants all of us to feed our spirits, and it is up to us to determine which actives will do that.  Once we discover what will feed our spirits and we do it, we will have more peace in our lives and PEACE MATTERS.  

~Dan~

Pattern by Jenny Hoffman

Pattern by Tina Woltman

Pattern by Dan Weaver-White

Pattern by Tina Woltman

Pattern by Jenny Hoffman

Pattern by Tina Woltman

Pattern by Tina Woltman

Pattern by Dan Weaver-White

The Quest for Peace: Part Three

As I continue to embark on my quest for peace, I have been thinking about the ingredients of peace.  The ingredients of peace are much like reading a recipe.  When we follow a recipe, we know that we have to include all of the ingredients or the end result will not be what we want.  We also know that we have to put the correct amount of each ingredient in so that the recipe we are following turns out like we intend.  

One of the key ingredients to peace is very simple and something that we all talk about and are even obsessed with, and that is love.  We use the word love to mean so many things.  We love our homes, we love our collections, we love our friends, we love our pets, we love our children, and we love our spouse.  It is funny how one little word can mean so much and be used to describe one of the most powerful emotions that we can feel.  It is easy to love the people who are special to us, but it is harder to love the people who are not very lovable.  I heard someone say once that the most unlovable people are the ones who need love the most.  This is very hard for me to remember at times, and I am sure it is hard for you to remember too.  

My grandma had the ability to love the unlovable.  She had a sense about people, and she could read them.  She often found herself being drawn to people who others would deem as unlovable.  I used to worry about her doing this, and I was often afraid that harm would come to her because she would put herself in situations where she was in the company of people who others would turn their backs on.  Looking back on it now, I realize that this was part of her calling.  She was drawn to these people because she had the ability to see beyond their rough, grumpy, and sometimes displeasing exteriors and could see the goodness of their spirits.  Her attention and acceptance would many times bring out the best in these people, and they would be more positive and happier because of the attention and love that she gave them.  When it came to the commandment “love thy neighbor,” my grandma took it to heart, and she truly tried to live her life doing this.  She touched countless lives with this love, and I know that the effects of her love are still felt by many people.  It was a life altering kind of love and a kind of love that I aspire to have for my fellowman one day.  My grandma was able to love in spite of the wrongs that were done to her.  She was able to love even when the world would have told her to stop, and she was able to love when others would have been unable to do so.  My grandma had peace in her life because of that love.  She understood that love was an important ingredient to peace and it served her well.  

So the next time you encounter a person or are faced with a situation that is difficult and is causing you to have less peace in your life than you want, remember my grandma and the countless others like her who love in the face of hate and who love not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing to do.  The people who love when everyone else turns their backs are the people who have true peace in their lives.  It is a peace that will change their lives, the lives of the people they encounter, and eventually the world.  It is that powerful!  We should all try a little harder to pepper our lives with more love.  When we do, we will enjoy the savory sensation of peace in our lives and PEACE MATTERS!

~Dan~

Today, I am sharing my collection of firkins, measures, and pantry boxes with all of you.  I hope you enjoy them and that they inspire you to continue to look for things that fill your life with more peace.  

The Quest for Peace: Part Two

We are all searching for peace.  We each find peace, but we often find it in different places.  What brings me peace may be something totally different than what brings you peace.  I may find peace while watching an old movie, and you may find peace while planting a garden.  Peace, like so many experiences in life, is an individual journey and a unique frame of mind for each of us.  These differences may make peace seem like it is harder to find and to hold on to, but in many ways the varying ways of finding peace makes it easier to find and easier to hold on to.  You see, we can find peace anywhere.  It is in the little things in life.  It is in the simple pleasures of everyday living that peace can be found.  It is in the verse of a song, the sound of the rain, the laugher of a child, or the hug of a friend.  It is everywhere; we just have to choose to see it.  

We often find ourselves saying that there is no peace to be found.  This statement may seem true, especially when we are in the depths of the valley, but really this statement is false.  There is always peace to be found.  One of the most common ways to find peace in our lives is by having gratitude.  Nothing brings more peace to our lives than being thankful for all we have and reciting those blessings to ourselves.  We ALL have something to be grateful for.  We ALL have blessings to count.  

I have personally known people who to me seem like they have nothing to be grateful for, but still I hear them telling others about all of their blessings. They may be enduring a personal, life-threatening struggle, but they continue to see the blessings in the problem.  I admire these people so much and strive to be more like them.  My grandma was one of these people and there are many, many others in my life, and I know that all of you can think of people in your life who are like this.  These people have peace in their lives.  They have true, unyielding peace because they have an attitude of gratitude.  They have an unshakable belief that everything is going to be okay, and they find blessings in every problem.  

We should all allow these people to be a beacon of peace to the rest of us.  We should use these people as a compass to help us find more peace in our lives, and it all begins with two simple words—thank you.

Today I will be sharing another one of the collections that bring me peace, my collection of salt-glazed crocks.  I do not have very many true salt-glazed crocks, but the ones I have truly bring me joy.  I love the surfaces of the crocks, and I love looking at the cobalt blue designs painted on those surfaces.  All of these crocks have seemingly found me over the years, and I truly believe that some of our most treasured pieces of any collection are the ones that have found us.  It is the ones that we just happened upon that bring us the most satisfaction and joy.  This is another life lesson that I think we should examine at a later time.  For now, I hope that you enjoy my collection of salt-glazed crocks, and I hope that you will think of the people in your life who are professors of blessings and you will join me in trying to be a little bit more like them.  When we are truly grateful for all of our blessings, the big and the small, and we speak those aloud, we will have more peace in our lives and as we all know, PEACE MATTERS

~Dan~

The Quest for Peace: Part One

With the recent events in the news and all of the information that we are being given, it is easy to think that our country and even our world is falling apart.  There is so much violence in the news, and it seems that we cannot go a day without hearing about some tragic event.  These events sometimes draw us together, but then in the wake of the disaster we begin to pull apart.  We begin to argue among ourselves about the right way to solve the problem.  We fight and argue and disagree so aggressively that many times we forget about the tragic events that led to the arguments in the first place.  We have all been created to have our own opinions and beliefs about things.  This is what makes each of us special and unique.  It is what makes our country great, and it is what sets us apart from everyone else.  However, we all need to remember that it is important to celebrate our differences instead of tearing each other apart because of them.  I can believe one thing, and someone else can believe something entirely different.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  The bottomline is that we lash out because we are scared.  We are afraid of losing control, and we are afraid that things are going to get worse.  We look for people and laws to blame.  We look for new leadership and new laws to solve our problems.  This has been going on for centuries, and unfortunately it will continue to go on long after we are gone.  

There is a problem in this world, and it is a lack of peace.  I believe that we can all agree on that.  Peace is what is missing from our world, and that quest for peace should bring us together, but often it tears us apart.  We should all try a little harder to accept our differences of opinion, and we should all agree to disagree with love and respect.  We should step back and realize that we are contributing to the problems by lashing out at our neighbors, friends, and family members just because they see things differently than we see them.  We should all be able to express our opinions without fear of being ridiculed.  We should be able to make a statement without a fight ensuing.  We can all do this if we remember the commandment to love thy neighbor.  That does not mean that we have to agree with our neighbor.  That does not mean that we should allow our neighbor to tell us what we should believe, but it does mean that we should respect each other.  We should show kindness to each other, and we should avoid the arguing and bashing that so many people participate in.  Our loudest voice and are biggest concern should be about peace, love, and acceptance.  If we can all do that a little more and argue a little less, I truly believe it will make the world a better place.  Will all the problems of this world suddenly disappear? No, but it will give us a chance to experience more peace in our lives.

How we see the world is really up to each of us.  We can choose to see the world as a terrible place full of strife and violence, or we can choose to see the world as a wonderful place full of love and goodness.  The decision is really up to each of us.  It is an individual choice and one that should not be taken lightly.  

So in my quest for peace and my belief that the world is really a beautiful place to live, I am going to be sharing things that bring me peace.  For my first four entries, I will be sharing collections that bring me peace.  You may be thinking how can a collection bring you peace?  The answer to that question is quite simple.  A collection can bring us peace when we look at it.  It can bring us peace because it makes our homes beautiful, and it can bring us peace because it takes our minds off of the things that do not bring us peace.  This feeling may be fleeting, but while it lasts it can change our attitudes and begin to spread to the rest of our lives.  

The collection I am sharing with you today is my leather book and hogscraper candlestick collection.  I love these items because of the worn surfaces and their age.  I love these items because they bring character to a room, and they fill my heart with joy.  I hope you will enjoy this collection and the other collections that I present in the weeks ahead. I hope that you will begin to think about the things that bring you peace and realize that it truly is the little things in life that can bring us the most joy. Maybe thinking about those things will bring you a little more peace and you will begin to realize just how much PEACE MATTERS

~Dan~ 

What Are You Going to Do with What You Have Been Given?: Part 2

It is impossible to navigate our way through this life without encountering difficult situations and roadblocks.  God has promised us peace, but He did not guarantee that the road to peace would not have a few potholes.  Sometimes the path is bumpy and makes turns that scare us and shake our faith.  God uses these potholes to build our faith and draw us closer to Him.  When we profess to believe in God and make the statement that we want to follow Him, the world begins to take notice of us.  They are watching us even if we are unaware of it.  They are looking to us to be examples of how to deal with the difficulties and strife that life brings our way.  We are told not to conform to this world, but to be transformed.  God wants us to be an example to the rest of the world.  He wants others to see what He has done in our lives and desire the same blessings for their own lives.  

One way we can show people the influence of God in our lives is by how we handle our challenges.  When we cling to God and have faith that He will direct our steps, we can face the challenges with a different spirit.  His love and peace and our faith in His love and peace can ease our worry and doubt, which makes facing challenges easier.  We have to allow God to carry the worry and doubt for us.  He is far more capable of doing that than we are.  Now, I am not saying that we will not have worry and doubt in our lives, especially when we are facing a challenge, but it can be greatly reduced.  When we have faith that God will see us through and when we let God know how we feel and let Him guide our path, we will see challenges differently.  We should talk to God and let Him talk to us all the time in the good times and in the bad times.  If we spend the good times talking to God and letting him talk back to us, it will become a habit. Then when we face difficult times, we will naturally talk to God and let Him talk to us. If we only talk to God during the difficult times, and not during the good times, we may not be in the habit of listening for Him during the challenges that we face.  

Like I said before, the world is watching us, especially the skeptics.  They want to see how we handle the challenges in our lives.  If they see us face the challenges head on with peace in our hearts, they will begin to realize that our relationship with God is real.  They will begin to see that God is love and that He wants to comfort us and renew our hope.  They will see that what we have is an amazing gift, and they will begin to want the same things for their own lives.  So, the next time your path gets bumping, do not fret.  Lean on God, talk to Him, and let Him talk back.  Thank him for the challenge and rest in his promise of peace.  

We are supposed to pray without ceasing.  He wants us to do that in the good times and the bad times.  He wants us to be an example to the world of what His love can do for everyone.  Turn your worries over to God and be thankful for what you have been given.  Stand up straight and proud and continue moving forward.  Let God be your guide.  After all, He is in front of you, beside you, behind you, and in you.  He will sustain your peace and PEACE MATTERS

~Dan~

What Are You Going to Do with What You Have Been Given?

Every human on the earth has been given a gift from God.  Some of us are aware of our gifts, but many of us are not.  People see gifts as an ability to do something extraordinary or an extreme talent, but that is not always the case.  We think that people who can play an instrument, sing, give inspiring speeches, draw, or paint have been blessed with a gift and that the rest of the population has been left out.  Humans see gifts as something that can only be seen by the eye or heard by the ear.  

However, God views gifts in a very different way.  Many of the gifts that He has given people cannot be seen or heard.  The gift of talking to people, the gift of love, compassion, empathy, generosity, prayer, and influence are some of the most important gifts that people can be given.  Our job is to discover these gifts and use them to serve our fellow man.  We should use these gifts to help people who are less fortunate than we are.  In doing so, we are doing a great service to God, and we are honoring Him and the gifts that He has given to us.  Many of us feel like we have nothing to offer the world or God.  We feel like all we can do is live our lives and try our best to be the best person we can be.  While that is a very important goal and something that we should all aspire to, we should also realize that we have been given a gift that we can use to help others.  

We have all been placed on this earth for a purpose.  God has a grand plan, and the plan has been in motion for centuries.  We were placed in this moment of time for a reason.  We were not just haphazardly placed here without any thought.  God placed us here to fulfill His purpose and to make the world a better place.  We are supposed to help other people.  Life on earth can often be difficult, and we need help in navigating it.  While God should be and is our ultimate guide, He has placed people in our lives to guide us along the way too.  We all have people who we depend on and turn to when things get difficult.  We often do not realize that God has placed those people in our lives for a reason.  While we can acknowledge that those people exist in our lives, we often find it difficult to realize that we have been placed in people’s lives to help them too.  It is not that God is too busy or not interested in helping people, but He wants to use us to help others. 

 Many people can accept help from other people, but they have trouble having faith that God can help them.  When they do accept help from the people in their lives, they are accepting help from God.  Hopefully, in time they will realize that, and their relationships with God will be strengthened.  So, as you have probably figured out by now, we have all been given many jobs to do on this earth.  We need to discover what our purpose is and what gifts we have been given and use those to help others.  When we help others, we make God proud.  We not only make someone else’s life better, but we make our own lives better too.  

I cannot express enough how much God wants us to help others and how much He wants us to discover the gifts that He has given us.  Sometimes we may use these gifts and be completely unaware of it.  Not knowing what our gift is does not keep us from using it and blessing other people with it.  Many times the gift we have is something that we have always known we possessed; we just never thought of it as a gift.  God can and will reveal our gift to us when we ask Him to.  

The most important thing to remember is that we have all been given gifts to use as armor to help others and ourselves.  We have a purpose, and we are important to God and countless others.  When we realize that, it will bring us peace, and PEACE MATTERS.  

~Dan~ 

Do Miracles Really Happen Everyday?

“Miracles happen everyday.” How many times have we uttered that statement in our lives?  We say it to ourselves and to our family and friends, but how many of us actually believe it.  We say we believe it and we do, but how many of us actually believe that miracles happen everyday?  I know that I have made this statement countless times, but I also know that I have struggled to truly believe that miracles do indeed happen everyday.  This is something that I continue to work on in my life and something that I hope to get better at as time goes by.  However, I am here to tell you that miracles do happen everyday.  Often it is only after the miracle occurs and we can look back on the course of our lives that we can actually see the miraculous event in its entirety. 

My grandma was a firm believer in miracles.  She lived her life believing in miracles, witnessing miracles, and sharing the miracles that God had performed in her life.  She instilled this belief in me, yet still I struggle.  I struggle to see them as clearly as she did, and I struggle to share them as boldly as she did.  Even with my grandma’s final breath, she was telling people about the miracles that had occurred in her lifetime.  Her mother had done the same thing, and my grandma even wrote a book after her mother died entitled Miracles From God for Mom. This book was about all the miracles that God had performed in my great grandma’s life.  She shared them with my grandma who then wrote about them so that others could be witness to the miracles. So you see, sharing miracles should come easily to me.  It truly is part of my family legacy. 

In the days following my grandma’s death this past May, I found myself being physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.  I spent many days sleeping on the couch, in bed, or even in my chair.  To say that I was depressed would not be an accurate statement.  I am sure that I was, but it was more than that.  I was tired.  This went on for about a week and then one day as I was sitting in my chair half asleep and half awake, I heard my grandma’s voice.  I heard it as plain as if she were in the room with me.  She said, “We can all make miracles happen if we follow where God leads us.”  She repeated it over and over again, and when I opened my eyes, I found myself repeating the phrase over and over again, and I have continued to do so.  When we follow God and when we are obedient to Him we can make miracles happen.  God can use all of us to make miracles happen.  We should never forget that.  God uses you, me, and every single person on this planet to make miracles happen for someone else.  So you see, my original statement was correct. Miracles do happen everyday, and we can all assist God in making those happen.  

With that being said, I would like to share a miracle that God performed for me, and you will see how He used other people to make that miracle happen. The miracle that I am going to share with you is how Jeff and I came to live in our rental house.  

When our house sold in February, Jeff and I knew that we needed to find a place to rent while we built our saltbox.  We started looking, but we could not find anything.  It truly seemed like there was nothing out there for rent.  Jeff looked online, and we drove around, but we did not find anything.  Through the assistance of God, I had a real sense of peace about it.  I kept saying, “The right place will come available.  We just have to have faith.”  I said it so often that I think people thought I was crazy.  They could not imagine why I had so much peace about our situation.  I knew, but I think others struggled to understand.  Then on March 6th we were at our niece Katie’s birthday party and our sister-in-law, Amy, told me about a house that a friend of theirs had.  The couple had built a new house, but their previous house was not for sale, and they really had no plans of selling it right away.  Amy had mentioned the house before, but I kind of dismissed it because it wasn’t for rent.  Even the second time she mentioned it I still dismissed it.  Then while Katie was opening her presents, Amy mentioned the house to Jeff, and suddenly it was like I was hearing her for the first time and I thought to myself, “That’s the house for us.”  

Amy contacted her friend, Kristine, who along with her husband, Brian, owned the house.  Kristina said they were willing to rent the house, but they needed to empty it out because they still had some of their things in the house.  Jeff and Kristina began texting each other and discussing the details about renting the house.  It sounded like the perfect house for the dogs and us.  It was located in Herrin, it had a fenced in backyard, and it was a newer home.  When we went to see the house, Kristina and Brian were still moving their things out, but I could tell immediately that this was the house for us.  We were on a time crunch because we had to be out of our old house on April 4th.  On March 31st, the house was ready.  Kristina and Brian had the inside of the house painted and had even replaced some of the carpet.  It was truly like moving into a brand new house.  They told us that we could replace the lights and that we could make it as much like our home as we wanted.  

This house was truly sent to us from God.  He had it picked out for us long before we even knew we needed it, and He used people to make the miracle that He was performing happen for us.  He used Amy, who persistently told me about the house even when I wasn’t really receptive to what she was saying.  He used Brian and Kristina who worked really hard to make the house so nice, and He used Jeff who had the ears to hear what Amy was saying.  

I will never forget the events that led to us finding our rental house, and I will never stop being thankful to God, Amy, Kristina, Brian, and Jeff for letting God guide them and being obedient to what He was saying to them.  It took a team of people working together to make this miracle happen for me, but God was the coach of the team and with Him as the coach, miracles happen. So, my grandma was right. We can all make miracles happen if we follow where God leads us, and now I truly know and believe that miracles happen every day.  We just have to have the faith, the eyes, and the heart to see them.  Believing in miracles and sharing them with others will give all of us hope.  Hope will lead us to peace and PEACE MATTERS!  

~Dan~

Below are some pictures of a miracle house.  I hope you enjoy looking at the picturesas much as I have enjoyed decorating this house. 

Dining Room

Foyer

Living Room

Keeping Room

Music Room

Family Room

Kitchen

Master Bedroom

I Dreamed a Dream

On January 21, 2009, an unemployed woman who had never been married and lived alone with her cat, Pebbles, walked onto the stage in Glasgow, Scotland to audition for the television show Britain’s Got Talent.  When she marched onto the stage, there was a collective laugh from the audience.  I am sure many of you have watched talent shows like this from time to time.  While we watch them to see people perform and succeed, we also watch them to see people fail and to give us all a good laugh.  It seemed the audience was ready to see yet another performer fail and provide them with a good laugh.  

When the lady introduced herself, she informed the judges and the audience that she was 47 years old and that it was her dream to be a professional singer.  She then told them that she wanted to be as famous as Elaine Paige.  She was greeted with rolling eyes and snickers.  She informed the audience that she would be performing the song “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical Les Miserables.  She gave a thumbs-up signal and the music began to play.  Then she began to sing.  Suddenly the laughs and snickers turned into thunderous applause and within five seconds of the first note she sang, everybody in the audience was standing on their feet cheering wildly for this woman that no one had given a second look.  As she continued to sing, the audience became more and more amazed.  How could it be that someone who looked like this could have such an enormous gift?  By the time she finished singing she was on her way to being one of the most successful singers of our time.  That lady was Susan Boyle.

Susan Boyle had lived a very ordinary and uneventful life up until that point.  She was raised in a small village in Scotland by parents who taught her to have faith in God.  Her mother had once told her that God had a plan for everyone, and she held onto that belief through some of the most difficult times in her life.  Susan had lived a life of solitude.  She was tormented and made fun of in school for the way she looked and for her learning problems.  She had never really had a boyfriend and when her father died she took on the responsibility of taking care of her aging mother.  Susan’s only escape from the reality that she lived was singing.  She sang whenever she was given a chance, but it really never seemed to go anywhere.  As the end of her mother’s life began to grow near, she urged Susan to audition for shows like Britain’s Got Talent, but Susan was afraid.  She felt that she was not talented enough and that she did not have the looks that are required to be a singing sensation.  When her mother died, Susan went into a deep depression.  She would not leave the house and she would not sing.  This went on for close to 6 months, until one day she decided that things had to change.  

She later said that she felt her mother urging her to take a chance and audition for the show.  She decided that she would do it in her mother’s honor.  The day of the audition she got on a bus to take her to the theater.  During the long day of waiting, Susan kept to herself and waited for her turn.  No one in that theater had any idea who she was or who she would become.  It was truly the day that would change Susan’s life, and it was a catalyst to her becoming who she was always meant to be.  God’s plan for Susan’s life was about to unfold right in front of millions of people.  Until that day, Susan had not sung in public since her mother’s death.  She said as she performed she could feel her parents surrounding her and that gave her the courage to keep going.  

We can learn a lot from Susan Boyle’s story.  She had spent the better part of her life possessing a God given gift that no one really knew about.  She had been waiting for what some would call a lifetime to become the person that God had always intended for her to be.  Her journey to international fame was one laid with failure and heartache, but it was all preparing her to become the person that God always knew she would be.  She has said that she does not regret any of the steps she took on her journey and that she is thankful for every twist and turn that she had to experience to realize her dream.  Many people would have given up on achieving their dream by the time they had reached 47, but none of us really know what God has planned for our lives.  Some of us realize our dreams and our purpose early in our lives, and some of us have to wait many years to realize our purpose.  

Susan’s story should remind all of us that we cannot judge a book by its cover.  How many of us have snubbed someone based on what we see on the outside?  How many of us have sold others and ourselves short based on what we present on the outside or because of our own self-doubt?  God truly does have a plan for all of us, and every single one of us has a purpose and a gift that we are supposed to share with others.  In Susan’s case, it took her enduring one of the most trying times in her life to muster up the courage to take a chance and sing in front of a large audience.  This is true for all of our lives.  God can take something that we feel is the worst thing that can happen to us and turn it into something amazing.  We all have endured tragedies and hard times only to realize later that it was through those experiences that we became the person we were always meant to become.  

The most important lesson that we can learn from Susan Boyle’s story is that we should never give up.  We should keep moving forward no matter what happens, and we should never let our setbacks define us.  We should allow our misfortunes and tragedies to make us stronger and help us to realize our dreams and our purpose in life.  I know how easy it is to want to give up, especially when it seems we have spent a lifetime searching for the things that will finally fulfill us, but in most cases it is worth the wait and once we discover our purpose, it will bring us pure joy and contentment.  

God has a plan for your life.  Your job is never to give up and keep allowing God to lead your steps.  You should take God’s hand and let Him help you to become the person that you are meant to be.  It is never too late to allow God to take the lead.  All you have to do is to reach out to Him and listen for His voice and let Him guide you.  God wants to guide all of us.  He wants all of us to discover our purpose and to use the gifts that He has given us to make the world a better place.  Through God’s guidance we all have that power.  God will never leave us or forsake us, and He will always see us through to the end.  We should never let the negative voices in our minds keep us from achieving all that we can achieve.  We should never allow self-doubt to keep us from moving forward.  God will encourage all of us along the way.  All we have to do is hear His encouraging words and be obedient to the things that He is saying to us.  It really is that simple, but it is often very hard for us to do.  We have to quiet the negative voices in our minds and focus on the good in life.  We have to take God’s hand and let Him lead the way.  The road may be bumpy and full of potholes, but God will lead us over them. God can make a way where there seems to be no way.  God can make miraculous things happen for all of us.  All we need to do is trust Him, surrender our lives to Him, and let Him guide our steps.  When we do this, it will make all the difference in our lives and will bring us peace like we have never experienced before, and PEACE MATTERS!

~Dan~

Triumphs Over Trials

We all have tragedies and trials that we have to face in life.   Some trials are small and some are big.  The size of the trial is not as important as we think.  A trial is a trial, and when we are going through one, our feelings are the same.  When we are going through a trial, we feel hopeless, lost, scared, frustrated, and worried.  We often feel alone and believe there is no one who understands.  We can lose faith during a trial and sometimes question God, wondering why we have to go through such a terrible event.  However, there is triumph over the trial.  We truly cannot go through this life alone.  We have to rely on God.  We have to have faith that He is in control and that He will see us through.  

We all know people who do not believe in God.  They are sometimes fairly vocal about their beliefs.  Imagine for a moment being a non-believer and then going through a trial.  Even when we do believe in God, we can lose our hope during a trial.  If you do not believe in anything, that hopelessness is so much bigger.  Everything is that much more difficult for a nonbeliever.  When we believe in God and have faith in Him, we can face anything.  Trials do not last forever, comfort is at our fingertips, and death is not final.  We can draw a lot of peace from those facts.  The trials we face also make us stronger and lead us to a better walk with God.  Sometimes we have to face a trial to get to a new level of living.  Sometimes a trial, as difficult as it is, can be the best thing that can happen to us.  

For example, take Doris Day. I bet you didn’t see that coming.  I am a huge Doris Day fan. Well huge is probably an understatement. I love, love, love her.  When I think of her, I cannot help but smile.  She just makes me feel good.  I love her movies, her songs, her television shows.  I love everything about Doris.  Oops, I think I got off topic for a minute.  I promise that I have a point.  Doris was a dancer as a young girl.  She was quite good, and she believed that was going to be her career.  She had a partner, a young boy close to her age.  Together they danced at local events and become quite well known.  Finally, someone from Hollywood recognized their talent, and they were signed to go there and dance in movies.  Their mothers decided to have a going away party for them.  The party was scheduled the day before they were to leave.  The night of the party Doris was involved in a terrible car accident.  Her leg was severely broken, and the doctors thought for a time that she would never walk again.  Ms. Day did walk again, but she was told that she would never have a career in dancing.  I am sure that this devastated her and that she could not imagine why such a tragedy had happen.  As she was recovering from the accident, she began taking singing lessons, and to her surprise she was quite good.  Her singing took off and the rest is history.  

This story just proves the point that sometimes something we see as devastating and hopeless turns out to be the best thing that could ever happen to us.  Had Doris not broken her leg, she may have never had the long career that she had, and the world may have missed out on her talent and goodness.  Sometimes in our own lives, the trials we face are the best thing for us.  God has to bring a little rain to our lives in order for us to grow.  The rain will help wash away all the bad and unimportant things in our lives and make us focus on the good.  Sometimes the storms of life will help us get our priorities aligned, and we will discover God’s purpose for our lives.  Even though trials are hard, we can grow and have a better life because of them.  However, the only way to face the trials and grow is to have faith in God and let Him guide the way.  He is right there by you, even if you cannot feel Him.  Lean on Him and have faith the size of a mustard seed.  

When we face a trial we cannot give up, and we cannot stop relying on God.  God is the ultimate peacemaker, and He will bring peace to our lives during the trial as well as after the trial.  Peace will set us free and in turn set the entire world free.  So, the next time you go through a trial, don’t lose hope.  Lean on God and trust Him.  I promise He will lead you through it, and when you come through the storm you will have more peace and PEACE MATTERS!

~Dan~

Taking Care of Yourself

Many of us spend most of our lives taking care of other people.  We have been taught that we are supposed to take care of our children, our friends, our spouse, and our parents.  We put so much energy into taking care of all the people in our lives that we often do not take care of ourselves.  The fact is we are not any good to anyone unless we take care of ourselves.  There has been a fundamental shift in our world lately based on taking care of our bodies.  We are obsessed with exercise, eating healthy foods, and not drinking or smoking.  We cannot turn the television or radio on without hearing someone telling us how to take care of our bodies.  This is very important, but we also have to take care of our spirit.  

We can never take care of anyone or do God’s work with a weak or sick spirit.  It is often easy for us to know what we have to do to take care of our bodies.  When we do we can see and feel the results.  Taking care of our spirit will get us similar results.  We will look and feel differently.  Just like exercise, taking care of our spirit takes time.  It is something that we have to train ourselves to do.  It will make us sore, and we will get frustrated that things are not changing quickly enough, but in time we will notice a change.  We have often heard that “Pain is gain.”  This concept can also be applied to our spirit.  You see when we go through a painful time in our lives our spirit grows and becomes stronger if we face the pain correctly.  Having a strong spirit is something we have to train for.  We would never run a race without training first.  Why, then, would we go through the race of this life without training our spirit first?  

There are many ways to train our spirit, and God is the master trainer.  We can train our spirit by having positive thoughts; we can train our spirit by praying and talking to God.  We can train our spirit by reading the Bible and other books that are positive and uplifting.  We can train our spirit by watching the right kind of shows on television or listening to uplifting programs on the radio.  The best way to train our spirit is to surround ourselves with positive thoughts.  We have to think in a positive manner, and we have to project a positive attitude.  In order to do this, we have to rely on God for everything.  We have to allow Him to talk to us and guide our path.  We have to turn to Him when things get difficult, and we have to give Him the control.  When we do this, much of life can seem a little easier.  Once we have trained our spirit and we are in good shape once again, then we can be a service to the people in our lives.  Once we have found peace within ourselves, we can help others find peace.  Once we have discovered the hope that God wants for all of us, we can direct others to the hope that we have discovered.  

While it is very important that we help other people and it will help us in the process, we have to be in shape to do the best job we can.  So, take time for yourself and include God in that time.  Find time to be still and communicate with God.  Allow the pain and strife that we will encounter in this life to strengthen you, not define or defeat you.  Lean on God and let Him train your spirit.  He is the perfect coach and trainer.  Just like exercise, it is something that we will have to make a daily part of our lives, and it is something we have to do everyday, but it will make us feel so much better that we will not want to go a day without it.  When we take the time to take care of ourselves and attend to the wellbeing of our spirit we will have peace, and PEACE MATTERS.

~Dan~       

Independence

There is no better day than the 4th of July to celebrate our independence.  When we think about independence, we think about different things. We think about all of the things we are free to do.  We are blessed to live in a country where we do have the freedom to worship in the way we choose, say what we want to say, and love whom we want to love.  Our freedom and independence has been fought for for centuries, and many brave men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice to insure that we have the freedom to live the life that we choose to live.  

Many of us have grown up in a world where our freedom has always existed, so we do not understand what it feels like not to be free.  However, if we would all stop and think about it for a minute, we would realize that there have been times in our lives when we have not been free to live our lives the way we choose.  We have all lost our independence at one time or another.  We have fought to regain our independence and sometimes we have won and sometimes we have lost.  

We can all have the kind of freedom and independence that will never fade away.  True independence and freedom comes from surrendering to God and letting Him lead the way.  We are all traveling down the path of life, and we all fight to stay on the path.  The path is bumpy and often takes drastic and dangerous turns.  We encounter obstacles along the way and often do not know which way to go.  God wants to lead us down the path.  He wants to be our guide, and He wants to lead us to the things that we are meant to find in this life.  When we spend our lives fighting against God’s will and His perfect timing, we will never feel free.  We will always be fighting a losing battle and we will not have peace in our lives.  

We all need to work harder to submit to God’s will and allow Him to lead our steps and illuminate our path.  He can and will do that for all of us.  All we have to do is surrender to Him and simply follow Him.  It sounds easy, doesn’t it?  However, it is one of the hardest things that any of us will do.  We often say that God is in control and that we want His will for our lives, but we spend much of our energy trying to figure out God’s plan for our lives, and we spend a lot of time trying to make things work out the way we think they should work out.  If we all could just give in and let God do the navigating, we would not have to worry about anything.  

God will never leave us or forsake us, and He will never lead us in the wrong direction.  Surrendering to God means that we have faith that He will lead us to the things that we need in His perfect timing.  He will not get us there too early, and He will not get us there too late.  He will get us there at the perfect time when we need it the most.  

Surrendering to God takes practice.  We are all so accustomed to making our own way and to always being in control of what we do that it is hard for us to surrender to God.  It is something that we will have to strive to do everyday.  It will come when we communicate with God and do our best to discern His will for our lives.  It will come when we are obedient to God, even when we do not understand why He is having us do a certain thing or leading us in a certain direction.  When we truly surrender to God, we will have peace like we have never had before, and our lives will seem so much easier.  I am not saying that our lives will be perfect, but much of the stress and worry that we carry around with us will be lessened when we truly surrender to Him.  

So, let’s all work at surrendering to God and letting Him be in control.  Let’s all communicate with God everyday and allow Him to reveal His plans for our lives in His time.  Let’s all enjoy the independence and freedom that we will feel by allowing God to take the reins, and let’s continue to follow Him where He leads.  It will be difficult to submit to God’s will in everything in our lives, but once we do it, we will have more peace and PEACE MATTERS.  

~Dan~

We hope all of you have a peaceful 4th of July filled with fun, family, and good memories!

Dan, Jeff, Peyton, & Paycee

Being Pulled Back on the Path

When we are not on the path that God intends for our lives, we know it.  We may not be consciously aware of it, but we feel it in our hearts.  Not being on the path can be very frightening.  When we are off the path that God intends for our lives, we lose our hope, our faith, and our peace.  We struggle with the ordinary, daily aspects of our lives.  Everything seems like a struggle.  The hopelessness is suffocating, and all we can focus on is the moment that we are in.  We can no longer look to the future, for if we do all we can see is darkness and the next great struggle.  We find ourselves waiting for the next fire to erupt, and we spend all of our time trying to extinguish that fire, often in vain.  When we are off the path, we have to let go of the dreams and goals to which we once had clung. We realize that those dreams will never come true, and that makes the hopelessness even denser.  Then the day comes when God says, “Enough.”  He has watched us struggle and fight, and He knows that we need His help to get back on the right path.   

Getting back on the path is often a difficult and painful process.  We often have a lot of corrections that we need to make, but we realize that we have to follow Him, we have to obey Him, and we have to trust Him.  When we return to the path, peace and hope are not restored to us instantly.  Like I said before, we have to make amends for the mistakes we made while we were off the path, but if we continue to follow God and trust Him, the clouds will start to lift.  It may seem like this is a slow process, but each second, minute, day, or week that goes by makes the clouds lift even more, and when we look back on where we once were, we realize just how much progress we have made through God’s help.  

Very soon, everything starts to come into focus.  We awake each day with a renewed sense of peace.  Our hope has been restored, strained relationships have been renewed, our purpose has become clearer, and we have peace.  Then the most beautiful thing in the world begins to happen. The dreams and goal we once had and were forced to abandon begin to come back to us.  God hands them back to us like a gift.  The presentation of this wonderful gift gives us even more hope and peace, and it makes us want to follow Him even more.  Once we are back on the right path, everything seems lighter.  Now when we look to the future we can see light instead of darkness.  We can actually breathe again, things seem easier, and we know that all of our dreams can come true.  We actually have the hope and strength to make them come true, sometimes for the first time in our lives.  

You see, God wants to give us the desires of our hearts, and when we follow Him and trust Him He hands them to us, and we feel like a child on Christmas morning, and everything seems possible once again.  We have a renewed sense of peace, and PEACE MATTERS.   

~Dan~

P.S. This is a repost from October 29, 2015.

Seeing the Beauty in Life

Yesterday when I was at school I found myself humming a song for no particular reason.  I often find myself doing this, but when I realized what song I was humming, it made me stop and think for a moment.  The song that I was humming was “Accentuate the Positive.”  I am sure most of you know this Johnny Mercer song, but in case you do not know it, I am sure you will recognize these first lines from the song.  “You have to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, but don’t mess with mister in between.”  When I thought about the song a little further, I began to see that that is what we all should really do.  We should spend most of our time accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative.  

You see, the thing that many of us often forget is that there is still so much beauty and positivity for us to focus on in this world.  We often find ourselves focusing on all of the negative things.  This is easy to do because it seems that we are constantly reminded of all the negative things that are happening around us.  What we all need to try harder to do is focus on the positive side of life.  That is what God wants all of us to do, and He has provided all of us with positive things that we can focus on if we just take a moment to notice them.  

There is so much beauty in the world.  We all see the world through different eyes.  I see the world differently than another person does, and he sees it differently than I do.  We all have our own unique way of seeing the world.  However, if we are focusing on the beauty of the world, it is true that we may see the beauty in different places, but the feeling that we have because of the beauty that we see will be the same.

Some people see beauty in nature.  There are so many beautiful things to behold when we look at nature.  A misshapen tree, a flock of geese, a mother deer with her fawn, a sunflower, and the list goes on and on.  Others see beauty in their surroundings.  Maybe they see beauty in a painting, an antique piece of furniture, the sound of a loved ones voice, the sound of a child laughing, or the bark of joy that a cherished pet makes when we come home.  Others see beauty in acts of kindness.  They see beauty when someone performs a random act of kindness, gives to a charity, smiles, calls an old friend, or tries to make someone else’s life better.  

Regardless of what makes us see the beauty in the world, the most important thing is that we see it.  When we see the beauty in the world, we will have a better outlook on life.  We will not feel so heavy and we will have more peace and PEACE MATTERS!  

~Dan~

P.S. This is a repost from January 14, 2016.  

Letting Go of Control

The whole world is seemingly obsessed with control, who has it, who wants it, who is going to get it, and who is going to lose it.  Every environment we come into contact with is operated on control.  People at our place of employment want to be in control, people at our place of worship want to be in control, and people in our families want to be in control.  We have spent the majority of our lives jockeying for position to see who is going to end up on top.  We fight for it, we lie for it, and we manipulate for it.  We try to control our lives and our bodies.  We want what we want when we want it, and we try to make sure that happens, often times in vain.   

Ironically, when it comes right down to it, the only thing that is really in control is the control itself.  Not being in control makes us mad, it makes us frustrated, it makes us bitter, and it makes a worry.  We carry the weight of trying to be in control around with us, and let me tell you, it is awfully heavy.  When we try to be in control of everything, we have difficulty maintaining relationships.  We find ourselves fighting with our parents, our siblings, our spouses, and our friends.  We become so obsessed with control that we no longer see the good in the world or in the people we love.  We want them to do what we want when we want them to do it, and if they do not we get mad and sometimes even cut them out of our lives.  

However, if we would just stop and think about it for a minute, having control over everything is not what we should want.  It is not what God wants for our lives either.  Imagine all the strife and worry that could be eliminated from our lives if we would just let go of control.  We all want peace in our lives, and one key to having peace is to stop trying to control everything.  We need to hand over the control to God.  He is in control anyway, whether we like it or not.  When we try to have absolute control, we tend to take matters into our own hands. We often mess everything up and get ourselves into situations that we do not want or need to be in.  Of course, when that happens, we look to God to get us out.  If we had just allowed Him to be in control, we would not have been in the situation in the first place.  

So, let go.  Let God guide your life.  If you find yourself wanting to control a situation, just step back and let God have it.  It is going to be what it is going to be, and no amount of control on your part can change that.  Now, I am not saying that we should just sit back and let whatever happens happen.  We have to be wise and know what we can control and what we cannot control.  We also have to make God part of our decision making process.  If we can give up on trying to control everything and everyone, much of the worry and stress in our lives will disappear.  It is a lot like the song by Carrie Underwood, “Jesus Take the Wheel”.  We have to let God take control.  That’s what He wants and His hands are far more capable than ours.  So the next time you feel the need to control a situation or other people, just say to God to “Take it” and let Him really take it.  Trust that He knows what is best and have faith that everything will work out the way it should and just enjoy the peace that comes from letting God be in control, because PEACE MATTERS.   

~Dan~

This is a repost from October 27, 2015.

Darkness

Who of us did not spend much of our childhood being afraid of the dark?  In fact, who of us has not spent the majority of our adult life being afraid of the dark?  It is a common fear that most of us share.  Darkness is depressing, and it can seem to suffocate us when we are in it.  When we are in a completely dark space, we cannot see anything.  We are frozen and want to stand still to keep from running into something.  When we do move, we do so with trepidation with our arms in front of us checking for dangers that may be in our way.  But think about this, what does it take to get rid of the darkness?  Of course the answer is light, but it does not have to be the most powerful light known to man.  It can be just a little spark. You see, one tiny light can change the darkness and illuminate our path.  Imagine being in a completely dark closet.  The lights are out and you cannot see anything in front of you.  There is a door in the closet, and when you look at the door, you can see light coming in from the crack at the bottom.  Light will enter the darkness wherever it can.  That small light can guide you safely out of the closet.

We can apply this principle to our own lives.  We often find ourselves in darkness for one reason or the other.  The darkness depresses us and can suffocate us.  We can find ourselves so overcome by the darkness that we are afraid to move.  We become paralyzed in the darkness and can spend years there afraid to try and find our way out.  However, the day comes when we realize that hope, love, peace, and God can bring light back into our lives.  It can start with a tiny spark that will give us the confidence to start moving.  The closer we get to the light, the more confident we become and the bigger the light grows.  Soon, we have found our way out of the darkness, and we are again living in the light, no longer afraid to move forward.  

I know if you are like me, you have been in the darkness of this life before, and it is a frightening thing.  It does paralyze us, and we have trouble finding our way out.  God wants to bring light back into our lives.  All we really have to do is ask Him.  The light can come in many forms.  It can start as a tiny spark and grow from there.  You see, the tiniest bit of light will chase the darkness away.  Think about that for a minute.  It only takes a tiny spark to chase the darkness away.  I don’t know about you, but that makes me smile when I think about it.  So, the next time you are in darkness and everything in your life seems to be falling apart and you are paralyzed by fear, remember to look for that tiny spark that can chase the darkness away.  You may wonder what that tiny spark can be.  It can be anything that brings peace into your life.  Love, hope, peace, forgiveness, acceptance . . . any of these can be the spark.  

God does not want us to live in darkness.  He wants us to enjoy the warmth and the beauty of the light.  He wants to be that light.  After all, He said. “I am the light.”  Let Him be the light, and he will fill your life with all the hope, love, joy, and peace you could ever imagine.  Above all, always remember that light will always overcome darkness.  Darkness will never be able to stand up against the light, and light will always prevail.  If we remember this, it will bring us peace, and PEACE MATTERS

~Dan~

This is a repost from October 22, 2015