Tuesday, May 31, 2011


You can just taste it.  This bitter sensation on your tongue that sure wasn't the sweet taste you were expecting.  Depending on the growth rate, you either tolerate it or promptly spit it out in whatever direction necessary.  I am not sure about you but for me, the whole bowl is ruined at that point.  That strong craving in now replaced with tense anger over a good meal gone bad.  No amount of sugar can cover it up.

It just took one.

I could just taste it.  That bitter sensation on my tongue was not what I was intending.  I had much sweeter words planned for my day, for my children, my friend, that stranger at the store and my husband.  It had rapid growth rate from the moment I spoke with her, to the first whine of the morning and beyond the missed kiss as he walked out the door.  Feeling unloved, something in me decided that I wasn't going to share love either.  Way back in my mind (in the good part deeply hidden beneath all the dark parts) I wanted to swallow this gross taste and forget about it but the dark me took over...and I was spitting venom.  No real reason at all other than I let someone's mold grow on me.  

Who knows what her day was like.  Who knows what her night was like.  Who knows what monsters she cowers from or demons she daily faces.  Who knows why she is so negative.  I don't.  But when we connected that morning, even through just a phone call, that black fuzzy growth made it's way through the phone and planted itself carefully in my thoughts.  It just took one and my whole 4 pound flat of strawberries was hanging in the balance.

How easy does it sound?  You know, to just pluck that moldy berry out of the plastic universe it lives in a toss it down the garbage disposal.  When she calls, I don't want to answer.  I know all I will hear is negativity and sadness.  I love her and care for her and want so badly to help get her out of her funk...but how?  Pushing happiness on someone who is not in the mood always seems to turn in to hurt on both sides.  I didn't create this anger inside her.  I didn't put her in the situation she was in.  But God did put me in her path.  And her in mine.  For many moments, many moons, I forget this.  This whole placed-in-this-situation-for-a-reason thing.  Instead, I take the common route.  I complain and avoid and neglect her.  It's easier that way.  For me.

Knees placed firmly in the dirt, fingers grasped tightly around the trowel and thoughts still swirling in bitterness, I found myself towering over strawberry plants kissed with white blooms.  I dream about the sweet fruits they are pregnant with and carefully feed them composte from the moldy and rotten foods of days past.  And even here, God is so good.  In that moment...He reminds me....that He is so good.  

Sure my dear friend is infested with mold right now.  Again, who knows where she got it.  But right in front of me, the very sweet fruit I am attempting to nurture and produce, I am feeding with the death of the sweet fruit it once was.  Rocking back to my heels and most likely wiping streaks of dirt on my brow, God is showing me, so clearly how good He is.  This mold can be used for good, He whispers.  Yes, it has the possibility to infect the whole bunch but with His help, His miraculous-life-giving help...He can grow new and beautiful things from even the grossest and most bitter of tastes.

I don't know what to do for her.  I don't have the words to say or the solutions to give.  But I do know that fuzzy mold that seems unremovable from her can be taken from me.  That I can take that ugly stuff in my brain and heart and turn it into life-renewing composte.  I can take the anger I was going to let grow, the nasty words I was planning on saying and the frown I was fully intending to wear...take it all and throw it God's direction.  I can replace it with prayers for her.  Prayers with her.  Prayers about her and her demons and her mold.  I can let God composte it all and feed her new life.  

I am not anyone important.  I am just one.  God doesn't NEED me to rid this world of evil mold, to be the person that helps her out, or even be the person praying for her.  He allows me this gift. He allows me beautiful friends and moments in the dirt and ugly fruit all so I can catch a glimpse of how wonderful it can be.  

It just took one...



Friday, May 27, 2011

HIT BY FRIENDLY FIRE - and what I learned

Have you ever worked for a company that you supported and stood up for - but they, in turn, treated you poorly? Perhaps you volunteered and sacrificed for an organization that took advantage of you? Maybe you were part of a committee or team that you really cared about, and your teammates selfishly turned on you to preserve their own place on the team? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you understand firsthand the feeling of being hit by friendly fire.
I, too, have been wounded deeply by those I trusted in the workplace. But if you know me, then you also know that I try my best to never waste pain. I ask myself what I can learn from it and how can I grow?
  • I need clear structure and authority. I will not be part of an organization that doesn’t have an organizational chart in place. It must be clear who each person reports to and what the chain of authority is. If this is not in place, then I will choose to step aside until it has been established.
  • I need to have the courage to confront from the ‘get go’. The moment I feel uncomfortable, I will go to the source and get clarification. I will never confront by email - only face to face. And it will be my responsibility to ask any question needed at any time.
  • I will not be bullied or pressured into decision-making. I will walk away from any situation that makes me feel this way. I will ask myself and evaluate, “Why the hurry? Why the pressure?” After that, if I am not confident of my answer or my input, then my answer is “no”.
  • I need to feel valued. I need the freedom to express my ideas and thoughts. I feel respected when I am kept in the appropriate loop of communication. I need appreciation for what I do right or what I do well. I also need correction and input for my growth where needed. And, I need to be challenged.
  • I won’t enable others to treat me poorly. I am the only one responsible for standing up for myself. I will take full responsibility for what I have control over and I will set personal boundaries. I specifically will not allow myself to be mistreated and/or devalued in order to keep a false peace amongst others.
Christie Lee Rayburn

Thursday, May 26, 2011


 I was a twenty-something girl standing between several clothing racks.  I could not get the attention of the sales girl, yet she ran to the attention of other women entering the department.  It wasn’t the first time I had to hunt for someone to help me in this well-known department store.  I concluded I look too simple for her to give me the time of day.  Maybe I didn’t look like someone who had the possibility of boosting her daily commission.  Maybe I was invisible.
Sitting in an in-service among other social workers, we were discussing the labels we put on others.  A woman my senior, whom I considered classy and an intelligent role model, coincidentally told her own story of being ignored numerous times in the same department store.  She was certain the salesgirls ignored her due to the color of her skin.
I stirred in my seat, could we both be wrong?  Is it possible we both projected our insecurities and self image upon strangers?  In hindsight, the lack of attention from sales people did not mean we were simple, invisible, or the wrong skin color.  Instead their lack of attention revealed more about their lack of customer service skills.  But we allowed the power of our belief in what a stranger thought of us to discourage and belittle us.  We likely let the false belief subconsciously become entwined with our self- image.
More recently I stood with my husband in a crowded fund-raising event.  The woman beside me reached her arm in front of me and pointed frantically across the room as she spoke to her companion.  Her finger wagged up and down just centimeters from my nose.  She continued talking with her guest, motioning her finger so close to me I found it ridiculously uncomfortable. Admittedly, the thought crossed my mind to drop my jaw, and chomp at that irritating finger.  Instead, I turned to my husband’s ear and whispered half jokingly, “Can you see me?  Am I invisible?”
“Am I invisible?  Am I insignificant?”  What is this message still doing in my brain?
Have you ever felt so insignificant that it ruined your day?  Have you sat in a crowd of your peers and felt virtually invisible? When we allow these feelings to infiltrate our lives we are in danger of acting out on them.  We may withdraw or get depressed- or the opposite reaction-we become boisterous, competitive, trying to earn the attention of others.
In this crowded world, each of us longs to be important to someone, to know there is a reason for our existence.  But our flesh yearns to fulfill this longing with the favor and applause of man.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”  John 2:16
The approval of others is fickle.  It often depends upon our performance or our appearance, or is limited by the next best thing that comes along. It is unreliable, unworthy of our trust and leaves us still craving for significance.  The boastful pride of life keeps us hungering for the approval and attention of man, while it actively opposes the Spirit of God.
The satisfying love of God
We cannot escape the timeless bondage of this craving unless we consistently find our significance and purpose in the One who created us.  Only He is able to give us the unconditional love our hearts long for.  Our identity and purpose must be grounded in the  knowledge and understanding of the Lover of our souls.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
 Psalm 139:17,18
Prestigious titles, accolades and the attention of man are worthless pursuits distracting the daughters of the King of Kings.  Instead, we must choose to fix our minds on the freeing Word of God and pursue the things which bring Himhonor.
Take time to meditate on these Scriptures.  Confess any unbelief as you consider these truths.  Ask God to help you believe what He says about His love and purpose for you.
  • Psalm 139.  Read all of it! Highlight it, circle key words and pray through it while you ask God to help you believe it.
  • Mark 10:43-45.  But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Check out what the disciples were asking Jesus in Mk 10:35-45.)
  • Galatians 1:10.  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
  • Ephesians 2:10.  For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them.
Begin to hide His Word in your heart.  The next time you feel invisible and are tempted to act on the lies of insignificance, you will be equipped to sit peacefully quiet and bask in the loving approval of God and His purpose for you in that moment.
Lord, I want only You to satisfy these longings of my heart.  I don’t want my life to be led by the approval and attention of man, but let my mind and my moments be led by the desire to bring attention to You!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Recently my son’s first high school soccer season came to an end.  He shared the goalie position with another boy who revealed proudly that he will always have a place on the soccer team because he and his dad know all the important people who make team decisions.  Politics, parents and sports, it gets ugly. But it isn’t just in sports.  Allowing our kids to rise and fall on their own merit is something we parents are not very good at these days.
For instance, our 7th grader is not a detail oriented student.  His teachers hold high expectations for students to be detailed in their assignments.  Sometimes I think their expectations are too high and the grading system serves only to be a kick in the teeth for a hard working kid like mine.  So, what is a parent to do?  I could complain to the teacher, or better yet, the principal.  I could demand that they be easier on my kid.  Or I could let my son struggle and figure it out. 
I’ve decided to let him struggle.  Anxiety provoking, I know.  But I’m holding to the belief that struggling through a difficult situation, facing failure or discomfort, will actually serve him well.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not leaving him hanging out there alone.  I’m trying to equip him with new study skills, working on ways to pay attention to details, and teaching him to listen closely to his teacher’s instructions.  If I were to do more than that, I would be robbing him of learning how to cope with life’s demands.  He is learning to take responsibility for his own work and deal with the demands of others.  I’m not saying it’s an easy choice, and I know it’s not the popular choice, but I trust it’s one of the best things I can do for my kid. 



Maybe you’ve heard about this lady.  She is suing McDonald’s over children’s Happy Meals and is quoted as saying, “I reject the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kid’s head”.  This mom blames the popular food chain for the ongoing battle she has with her 6 year old over purchasing happy meals.
Welcome to parenthood, lady.  As your daughter grows she will also beg you for clothes, technology, dating privileges and curfew changes.  Her peers and the culture they live in will “get into her head”.  Who will you sue then?
There will always be an assault on our kids’ brains.  Culture and its influences will continue to entice our offspring for generations.  What will you do, parent?  Will you bend to the pressures?  Will you take culture to court?  I challenge you Mom, to know well the values you want to pass on to your children.  Set out to deliberately train up your child in the way he or she should go.  Become so convinced in your mission as a parent that as a result, you are able to confidently say, “No” to your child whenever the need arises.
Agreeably, there are many influences that I too would like to protect from my children.  But keeping them in a bubble will only hinder their growth to healthy adulthood.  Instead, let’s develop tools and skills for our kids to help them identify and stand against the daily assault.  That’s not McDonald’s responsibility, it is yours!

Monday, May 23, 2011


This past weekend, I was speaking to a group of pastors and their spouses on The Essential Elements of Sex. As I began to talk about the concept of making love versus having a quickie, one woman called out, “Sometimes you just need a snack!” The room dissolved into laughter and even the most shy in the room were giggling in approval.
As a coach, one of the common complaints that I hear is that the woman wants to “make love” and feels that her husband just wants to have “a quickie”. The former evokes images of a couple looking into each other’s eyes and kissing deeply while the latter conjures up the picture of getting pinned against the wall and being taken right then and there. Both can be deeply passionate, just different forms of expressing the passion.
Sometimes, sex will be a deep, soul-connecting intimacy with our spouse. Other times, it will just be a way to experience pleasure together quickly. Sometimes it will be a two-hour experience; sometimes it won’t last ten minutes. Sometimes it will be long and luxurious; other times it will be fast and frantic. Sometimes both spouses will walk away having experienced orgasm; other times the focus is on one person alone.
Difficulty arises, however, when couples fall into a rut of believing that it has to be one or the other… all the time. I have seen husbands refuse to acknowledge the need to make love and I have met wives who insist that each and every sexual encounter must be “making love”. A dogmatic adherence to one or the other undermines true intimacy. A steady diet of quickies denies the concepts of exploration, creativity, and deep communication because, amongst other reasons, there is simply no time to venture into those areas. On the other hand, if couples only have sex when they have time to make love, they might never get to it out of sheer busyness!
Both types of sex build intimacy if they are done in balance. Sometimes you need a gourmet meal; sometimes you need a snack. 
Which one do you need to work into your sex life to regain balance?

Friday, May 20, 2011


I was going to travel the world and take pictures of it.  A storage unit and a PO Box would be my “home” and my camera would be my best friend.  National Geographic would turn from a monthly subscription to inspiration into my ticket to ride and my pay to eat, aside from the free bugs and berries I found along the way.  
As I got older, things would meander in and out of that dream but nothing about it’s core ever really changed.  Things like jobs and friends and boys.  A long time boyfriend, who loved to write, was at one time my companion as we aspired to marry and share our lives as we trekked around the world.  He would write and I would photograph and all the angels would sing in perfect harmony.  But then we broke up.  In parting, I snatched my dream back, tucked it closely to my side and marched on, planning how to set up a tent alone and trying to remember the words to those catchy rhymes that taught you which snake was safe to eat and which one would kill you dead on the spot.
I loved knowing what I was going to do with my life.  I took classes in college, I bought really cool cameras on ebay and spent most of my free time perfecting my craft. 
I got pregnant.
At 22, with a budding career in private aviation and a tall drink of water for a boyfriend, I found out I was pregnant.  Of course, this was shocking and as unexpected as these things could be but…it wasn’t bad.  As I would smile and tell them how excited I was about the pending baby, their faces were twisted and weird.  Sometimes judgmental, sometimes confused but most of the time, the first response was “What about National Geographic?”
See God did this funny thing.  I wasn’t really “tight” with him at the age of 22.  I hadn’t been for quite some time.  If I was really honest, I would say that he was a packed-away afterthought in most of my days.  Until I had this little person growing in me.  I didn’t know what I was doing?  I could barely stop swearing let alone be in charge of building a precious little child’s moral character.
And how to answer that constant question at first reveal?  I didn’t feel like anything was lost…like anything was being taken away or that my dreams were crushed.  While I still didn’t know God in an intimate and personal way, he was wooing me.  I was excited to be a mom and, for some reason, knew that if I was supposed to be a photographer…it would happen.  
That was seven years ago.  That tall drink of water?  He’s my husband and I am his wife.  That little baby a brewin’…she’s one of three (soon to be four) and those kids are my everything.  Me and God?  We tight.  I set myself down for a second and realized my need for Him.  Lucky me, He was waiting with open arms and grace everlasting.  We talk all day, every day and He is slowly opening my eyes to how things are done in His world. 
National Geographic?  Photography?  God is so amazing.  While I continued to dabble in my love of the art, I never really felt a time to make it a career.  And I may never.  But with my kind husbands support and prompting, my loving God’s perfect timing and amazing people who give me nice compliments, I am able to practice my love-never-lost.  I may not be storing my belongings in a storage unit or calling home by PO Box 1122, but I get to go a few places and do a few things.  No moment’s notice trips or lizard tails over a rainforest campfire but this life He granted me…it’s way more exciting.  
As I prepared for bed the other night, I pulled the rubber band out of my dread-lock-like-locks to set it down and give my mane a rest.  It was the rubber band I pulled from the asparagus bundle I cooked for dinner in an attempt to quickly get the do out of my face.  Blue with Mexico written all over it.  Thought bubbles floated over head with images of mayan ruins, swimming with dolphins and underwater camera equipment carried by my photo team.  I didn’t long for it and I didn’t regret a single MOMENT in my life.  But…I tucked it close to my side and marched to bed.  If God wants me to be there, doing that…it will happen.  And if not?  Well…I am happy to just wear Mexico in my hair.

PS.  God helped me replace my swear words with a much better vocabulary.  Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect…but credit to Him for as far as it has improved. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WHO IS 'ME'? Part One - Your Past

Take the Journey of Self-Understanding

Having an understanding of one’s self is vitally important in life. Before you can have healthy relationships, communicate successfully, or lead respectfully – you need to get a handle on who you really are. You need to be able to recognize how you will react to disappointment, what triggers your stress and why, and what your defense mechanisms are and where they originate from….just to name a few.
There is a big difference between saying things like, “I’m Christie,” or “I’m a mother,” or “I’m a doctor” and saying, “I am a woman who believes every person has infinite value and should be treated likewise; I naturally lean towards independence but believe deeply in community; I know that I am no better than any other; I am passionate about life and I want to maximize my contributions.”
Someone once said, “The concept you accept as true is the concept that controls you.” Who do know yourself to be? This will be the first of a three-part series that looks at your past, then your present, and finally your future in order to discover who “me” is!
Journey to Your Past  
 Work through these at your own pace
  • Where was I in my family’s birth order? (firstborn, middle , baby) And how did I feel about that?
  • Name something I am proud of from my elementary years. Name something I am proud of from my teen years.
  • State 3 childhood dreams. Do I still have any of these in some form?
  • What was I afraid of growing up? Am I still?
  • Who or what made me feel safe and loved as a kid? As a teen?
  • Who did I share my secrets, dreams, or hurts with as I was growing up?
  • What are 3 words I would use to describe myself as a child? As a teen?
  • Using my immediate family, how am I similar to each one and how am I different from each one?
  • Name 5 things within my family structure that impacted me the most growing up. How did they impact me then? How do they impact me now?
  • Name 5 things outside of my family structure that impacted me the most growing up. How did they impact me then? How do they impact me now?
  • What are 3-5 things I learned from my parents about how to love others? How to treat my spouse? How to raise my children?
  • Is there someone from my past that I haven’t forgiven? Why am I still angry? Why does it still hurt?
  • What did I learn from my dating years? What view of the opposite sex did I come away with from my teen years?
  • What are 2-4 inner vows I made to myself growing up? (“I will …”, “I’ll never …”, I am going to make sure …”)
Understanding the past, your history, is to appreciate how your story began and gain insight to why your story is unfolding like it is at this point. You did not choose where you were born or who you were born to or how others treated you. You cannot control circumstances or be responsible for other people’s choices, but you have complete control over who you choose to be and how you choose to live today. You are influenced by your history but you are not defined by it.
Write your story. Live out your dreams. Become who you want to be. Choose what you want your next chapter to look like and keep growing in your understanding of yourself.
One of the healthiest things I ever did was to process my past, forgive others that I had blamed for far too much, forgive those who made painful choices that I paid for, and choose to learn about myself through it. 
My question for you is this – do you understand your past and how it has impacted you?  
I’d love to hear what you discover about yourself - please share it with me.

Christie Lee Rayburn

Friday, May 13, 2011


Most children, around age 5, will answer the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ with an occupation like “A nurse” or “A race car driver”. All I ever wanted to be was loved. 
Being labeled with ADHD is where the story starts. The beginning of my quest to feel loved. I remember at age 5, realizing why many people in my life were so frustrated with me. See, my condition, caused more frustrating feelings toward me than it did loving, warm feelings. Those feelings of frustration were transferred to me over and over and over. As a child, teen, and young adult, those feelings defined me. They motivated my every decision.
“I just never saw how You could cherish me…”

When I turned 12 my need to feel loved became overwhelming, and I turned to boys.
From the age of 13 to 22 I had one “boyfriend” after another. I learned how to be exactly what they wanted me to be so that they would want to love me. I manipulated, used, and ultimately, no ones heart was broken more than mine. The hole in my heart was getting bigger and bigger.
After the age of eleven I had no close girlfriends, my need to feel loved trumped them. They only got in the way, and in my eyes they couldn’t fill the hole. Girls were judgmental, critical, and leery of me, and upon reflection, they had good reason. I used them just as much as I did the boys. Anything to get me closer to feeling loved.
I had no idea what was right and wrong in the world of relationships. I grew up with “do what feels right.” In those years of my life, what “felt right” was far from what God had planned for me.
“…didn’t You see what I’ve done? In my shame I want to run and hide myself away…”

In my early twenties, I was in another unhealthy relationship. We had been living together for some time and the turning point of my life was in a movie theater watching TITANIC. My then boyfriend leaned over to me and said “Wouldn’t it be cool if people could still love each other like that.” 
That is the first time I remember acknowledging that I was failing at acquiring love. That all my efforts, and manipulation and tactics weren’t working. I had nothing left in my bag of tricks. I had tried everything I could think of.
“…but its here I see the truth, I don’t deserve you…”
With the last of my stuff packed in my car driving away, I vowed to myself that there would be no more games. Authenticity was my new motto. I had no idea what that looked like or who I really was and I couldn’t wait to find both. On my way out of town, I had one more stop to make, One that would change my life forever. My cousin was going on a blind date and I needed to be there for support. Little did I know that the man she was meeting would end up being my husband 2 years later…(that God story is for a future blog).
“I have wasted so much time, pushing You away from me…”

With having only 2 years of my new found authenticity motto and still floundering my way through what that meant, I got married. I will never forget, what someone (who is supposed to be close to me) told me just before walking down the isle “Don’t screw this one up.” 
“I need You to love me…”
I marched right down that aisle putting all my hope in one man…my new husband. I just knew that he would be the one to sew up the gaping holes of my heart. FINALLY! Someone to love me. 
He did a great job of loving me but over time, it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get enough. The holes weren’t going away. I became needy, obsessive, and jealous. He loved me, and never did anything to hurt me. So why couldn’t I get full? Feeling defeated again, I began withdrawing from the relationship, and went out looking for answers.
In my search, I found another man. 
This man told me that He could heal my heart and didn’t care where I had been, it was where I went from here that mattered. He told me that it would be impossible to get enough of Him, and equally impossible for Him to get enough of me. That He desired a relationship. Not only did He want to know me, He wanted me to know Him… intimately. He said over and over how beautiful I was and that I added value to who He is. 
Do you know him? 
“Your love makes me forget what I have been…”

I know that this man is in a relationship with many people, yet He makes me feel like I am the only one, that I am the most special. He told me that there is no one like me and that I bring Him joy. He delights in me (giggle). He came for me.
He set me free from believing that I didn’t belong, He placed inside me passions and hungers that I never knew existed before. He showed me gifts that He had given me long ago and asked me to use them. He took the lies I believed about myself, broke them into a million pieces and gave me the truths.  
“Your love makes me see who I really am”

He came at just the right time.
Just in time to save my marriage from ME. He showed me that I was the problem, but broke it to me gently. He picked me up, repaired my heart, and showed me what He intended for my marriage to look like. He encouraged me to stick with it when it got tough and rewarded me when it got good. He has been with me the whole way. 

I have an incredible marriage because I invited Jesus Christ into it. My husband could never have filled those holes because, as perfect as he is for me, he is still not perfect. My wounds could only be healed by a perfect God
“Cuz you’re a God who has all things and still you want me!”
Do you know this perfect love?
Do you have wounds you can’t seem to mend on your own?
Can you relate? 
I’d like to hear from you. 



Yes, it is ... and here was a page  out of my personal journal recently. Perhaps you might be able to identify ...
Almighty & All-Powerful “I AM”, 

I don’t need to be convinced of my ‘dirtiness’ or my ‘ugliness’ - my sinful heart is so real to me - and so I cry out to You ...

~ I confess becoming too casual with sin.

~ I confess my distraction of being pre-occupied with myself.

~ I confess that my ears have been more ‘in tune’ with noise than with Your Voice.

~ I confess my lack of self-control, my binging, and my selfishness.

~ I confess too much concern with trying to win favor from others.

~ I confess my pride that causes me to argue or critique rather than question and explore.
I could never stand before You in my “Christieness.” No one could. But I come to You in the robe of righteousness from the blood of Jesus.... that covering - I will base my whole life upon! That purity is what gives me peace.
Your full redemption settles every sin in my life - it secures my present & my future. I am eternally indebted!

Please know that I am hungry to be close to You -
                                                                   I am thirsty to do what is right.
Christie Lee

What difference does confession make in your life? Please tell me.

Christie Lee Rayburn

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


On Saturday, January 29, 2011 I witnessed a miracle. Bryan and Ikuko Leider allowed me to be present at the birth of their sweet second daughter, Ayaka Leider. This was the first time I had ever been this close to a woman giving birth, and it took my breath away. 
I think Iku was trying to trick me into thinking labor is no big deal, and she did a fabulous job. She was so calm and collected that without the hospital gown and the heart monitor you might have thought she was only climbing a particularly steep hill or chasing after her 2 year old, Ayumi. 
After hours of contractions and minutes of pushing, Ayaka greeted us all with her newborn screaming – music to our ears. I couldn’t get enough of her teeny tiny fingers, toes, and nose. I loved watching as she was passed around the room to meet all the people who already love her. 
I hope memories of your own miracles are washing over you right now – whether they include children or not. And I pray today you will see God working in and around you.

Monday, May 9, 2011


My daughter is a natural born giver. Eric and I figured this out when she was two and all the toys began to disappear from the toy box as guest after guest was treated to a gift at the end of each play-date.
I have to admit that this baffled me greatly, for if you know anything about the concept of Love Languagesgift giving is on the bottom of my list. I am much more likely to show you that I really like you by demonstrating all the other Love Languages before you get a present or card from me. It just isn’t a big thing.
So when Riley began giving away gifts that she herself had been given for Christmas and her birthday, Eric and I had to have a serious conversion. Were we going to allow this behaviour to continue? How important was cultivating this instinct in our daughter to us? Was encouraging a spirit of generosity and demonstration of love for her friends more important that the money we (and others) had poured into stuff for our kid over the years?
We decided on a compromise. First, we laid ground rules on which items could be given away. For instance, she was not allowed to give away “sentimental” gifts such as presents that her grandparents had lovingly picked out for her. Secondly, we encouraged her to make gifts for her friends. After deciding on this framework, Riley’s friends (or their moms) often left with a stuffed animal wrapped in hand-made wrapping paper and card. It worked.
Just last week, as she headed off to her Mandarin lessons, she decided that she needed to give her teacher a New Year’s gift. So, working with what she had available because class was starting in 20 minutes, she put together a baggie of chocolates and then put a sprig of our (very dead) Christmas tree in the knot of the baggie.
It looked, well, horrid.
I have to be honest, the Southern girl in me used to cringe when she would give gifts that looked like this. You see, I was brought up that if the gift was not presented perfectly, then it should not be given until you can make it look better. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well – right?
But that misses the heart of giving. Stopping Riley and telling her that her gift didn’t look good enough would totally crush her and undermine the spirit of what she was trying to do.
And so, slowly and painfully, I have learned over the years not to spend too much time and energy worrying about the recipient’s reaction to Riley’s hodge-podge style of giving. In this most recent example, Riley made a gift comprised of candies that she had been given during the holiday season, decorated it and gave it to her teacher with much love. Who cares if the teacher was bothered by the dead tree attached to it?! Who cares if she is deep into her New Year’s resolution to lose weight and chocolate is the last thing she wants right now?!
As I was thinking more about this, it dawned on me that by the time Riley reaches adulthood, she is going to be a Gift-giver Supreme because she has had so many years of practice. Years in which she could give gifts that look, well, horrid and it was ok because she was learning to give. Since she is given the freedom to express her love, she will get better and better at the presentation as the years go on. And truth be told, she is already miles ahead on her presentation skills from several years ago.
It might be easy to read this post and think, “Well of course, she is six!”
But do you have this much patience for your spouse? When they are trying to acquire new skills in your relationship – new skills which will ultimately make your relationship better – do you allow them to express themselves as adequately as they can or do you get frustrated because it doesn’t look right…or isn’t presented the way you would do it…or isn’t wrapped perfectly?
I find that far too often couples get impatient when asking their partner for change. They will:
  1. Wait until they are nearly exploding from frustration over an issue.
  2. Ask their partner for change (read: demand change).
  3. Expect immediate perfection (and note that “perfection” is usually defined as the way they want things done) when the partner makes the attempt to change.
This is crazy. Any skill set takes a while to learn but no one wants to learn when they are being criticized every step of the way. So give each other space and time to grow. Allow your spouse to try, even if it is awkwardly, and don’t allow yourself to listen to those inner thoughts that say, “It isn’t good enough.” Rejoice in the child-like steps that your spouse will take in his/her attempt to make the changes you have requested.  Because you know what “good enough” looks like to you – but they don’t – and your partner probably has to work hard to achieve your expectation of “good enough”.   And that kind of work takes time, patience and encouragement – from both sides!
So while they work on changing something, you can spend your time and effort creating an environment that encourages and rewards the effort – not just the perfection!
Canada's Passion Coach®