Encouragement: Conscious Living

























(This graphic is from a high school friend Megan Hastings of Shabby Blogs.  With a giant heart, she offers all of her cute things for free. http://shabbyblogs.com/ . This notepad makes me want to be productive.)

Definition of Unconscious: characterized lack of awareness or intention

Definition of Conscious:  aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings etc.

My favorite definition of Conscious:
having the mental faculties fully active.

Honestly, sometimes, my mental faculties are not fully active.  I was just talking to my friend Amy about this.  I will go upstairs to get something and come back downstairs without it. What I did upstairs had nothing to do with the original intention I had.

Have you ever gone from point A to B and wondered how you got there?

About the time I turned thirty, I began to wake up. I had been so consumed by worry years had passed without definitive intention.  Deep in my heart I knew what I sought, but I allowed worry to push those dreams into unconscious living.

What gets in your way of conscious living for Christ?

We get so caught up in what is around us, we forget to pause.

I write a list for each week of hopes and it stands right alongside my regular list of responsibilities.  If things don’t get crossed off, it is absolutely all right. I just put it on for the following week.  Sometimes, I never accomplish anything on the list, and without guilt I hope to have time in the days ahead.

Postscript:  Naps are nice.  I wish everyone could have a little nap for a half hour every day.  Our mental faculties might become more fully active.

Encouragement: Knock out Fear

My Mom saved this letter penned in red, signed with exclamation, archival evidence.

I am a recovering people pleaser and an imperfect perfectionist.

Circa 1/28/88 (My nine-year-old beginnings)

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am sorry for making you so mad about me worrying, because I worry about a lot of things.  1. You are good parents. You do so much for us. I want to do something good, nice, special for you. 2. I worry about Jeffrey. 3. School. 4. growing up. 5. friends. (over)

6. (boys) Now do you understand? I guess it’s just part of growing up. I hope you don’t have to be flurated [frustrated] at me! I love you very much! Mom you are very pretty! Dad you are very handsome! You do the right thing always! I try to be good for you!

Love your daughter

Lisa Petersen!


I hope to bring encouragement to others through honesty.  Honesty that I have squandered large portions of my life being irrationally fearful.  I fear:      

1.  That people are mad at me.

2.   That I give advice and that I didn’t give advice. Saying the little word, no. NO= people might be mad.

3.   That sometimes I don’t return my cart to the corral at the store and that makes me a very bad person.

4.   That my alarm won’t go off.  I push one dot, two dots, at least twenty times every night.

5.   That I spoke an errant word during a telephone call or a conversation.

6.    That people are mad at me.

7.    That I will mess up my kids. Confession: Sometimes I fall asleep when they watch a movie, I feed them the forty cent macaroni and cheese, and sometimes I am impatient.

8.     That I will let someone down, that I will bring disappointment.

9.     That other girls might not like me if I am thin. They might not like me if I wear jewelry, sunglasses, or anything else that can be perceived pretentious on me.  They might not like me if I dress trendy.  They especially won’t like me if I say what I am feeling honestly. (Residual adolescent fears lingering into adulthood.)

10.    The snake building at the zoo.  (An enclosed space full of slithering snakes, my goodness, it is the absolute worst.)

11.     That people won’t know God because church has been unkind. That people suffer.

12.     My family being all right, especially when they are driving.

13.     That I have made mistakes. These tiny details keep me awake at night.

14.     People will find me dull because no words surface sometimes. That people I meet will think I am aloof.  I fear that this makes me the worst pastor’s wife in the World.

15.     As a child I feared that our house would catch on fire. I practiced in my mind, opening my second-floor screen and leaping to the nearest branch, that was not particularly near, and hanging there until I could jump onto the fireman trampoline. That the car I am in will go off the road into water and sink.  I think about how to execute a dozen different escape plans.  I fear robbers.  Don’t come robbers, I am a black belt in mind karate. I worry that people will hold the grocery store hostage. If that happens I will escape through the garden center to the outside and scale the fence.

16.   I fear being late.  That might attract attention.

17.   Eating in public.  I can’t explain this.

18.    That God will become frustrated with me for all the time I waste being fearful.

19.    That someday it will impossible to remove all the hair above my upper lip, between my eyebrows, and the pesky strands that surface on my neck out of nowhere.

20.   That people are mad at me.  

Postscript: This is my abbreviated list.

Fear drives worry.

I worry a lot.  It is completely irrational.  I have been learning to not live in fear.

I let the desire to be pleasing to everyone, drive everything I did for the majority of my life.

I did not realize that this was an utterly impossible task that completely paralyzed me.

The truth is sometimes people might not like you, for no apparent reason.  It took me a very long time to accept that.

Also, there is a lot of “I” going on up there.  My fears focused on self and how others perceived me.  There are bigger problems going on in the world than if people are mad at me or if I made a mistake. I want to commit my life to making a difference.

I encourage you, don’t live your life in fear.  It’s boring, silly, weird, and a waste.  I am telling the truth (please still like me).

What fear do you need to ask God to help knock out in your life? 

Of all the things you can’t control, this is one you can!  I’m O.K. and you are O.K.  I really, really promise.  God promises to hold you up. 

Isaiah 41:10

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up…..

Water is Life

This graphic is from Living Water International


An American taking a 5-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slums uses in a whole day.  ~2006 United Nations Human Development Report

  • In developing countries 80% of illness is linked to poor water conditions.  ~United Nations
  • ½ the World’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from disease related to un-safe drinking water. ~United Nations Development Program
  • 443 million school days are lost each year due to water related diseases.  ~United Nations Development Program
  • Girls under the age of 15 are twice as likely as boys their age to be the family member responsible for fetching water.  ~UNICEF
  • More than 1 in 8 people do not have access to safe drinking water.  ~United Nations
  • 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 is due to water-related disease. ~United Nations

Whether your life is comfortable or not, most citizens of the United States do not have to worry about clean water.  Imagine not having enough clean water for your family.  Imagine sending your young daughter away to gather the water for your family, opening the door for danger, taking time away from her education.  Imagine watching your child suffer from a water-related illness.  Imagine your children not being able to attend school due to lack of sanitation.  These scenarios are difficult to imagine because we have not faced them and they are uncomfortable.  These examples occur each and every day throughout the World.  We can help ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

How can you help?

  • Join in on World Water Day         March 22, 2012

You can download a brochure here.

This brochure is a great resource for families to look at together.

  • Be good stewards of the clean water resources we have.

Check out Clean Water Action

Check out National Geographic’s Freshwater Initiative

National Geographic has great photographs for families to view together.

  • The options for giving or becoming involved in clean water initiatives around the World are vast here are links to just a few.  Add additional programs that I might have missed in the comments section below.

The Water Project 


Charity Water

  • Many of the organizations cited in other posts have clean water initiatives as well.
  • Talk to your family about clean water today at dinner.  Educate your children.  A thankful heart for what we have is priceless.


Book Review: The Warmth of Other Suns

Pulitzer Prize winner author Isabel Wilkerson writes the story of America’s Great Migration in The Warmth of Other Suns.  Isabel Wilkerson was the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in the history of American journalism.

This book is a striking account of the events that took place in the not-so-distant past.

The story weaves historical accounts, secondary stories, and facts into lyrical non-fiction.  As a storyteller, Wilkerson provides engaging narrative that makes this an exciting read despite its depth.  The true stories of the three main characters Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster are captivating.

The great migration took place from 1915-1970.  The south stood under Jim Crow laws of separate but equal.  The expansive Warmth of other Suns, tells the story of the six million people that left all they knew for a new life in the North. Their stories will capture you heart.

This is our history. 

Knowledge of history has the power to change the present and the future.

I was leaving the South

To fling myself into the unknown….

I was taking a part of the South

To transplant on alien soil,                                    

To see if it could grow differently,

If it could drink of new and cool rains,

Bend in strange winds,

Respond to the warmth of other suns

And, perhaps, to bloom.

-Richard Wright

Encouragement: Words

Break~ Damage~ Hurt~ Destroy~ Tear Down~ Crack~ Divide~

Disappointment~ Despair~ Shatter~ Impair~ Desolation~ Ruin

Words are POWERFUL.

I have known unkindness.  We all have.  It hurts.

Sadly, unkind words have a way of affixing themselves to us.  They are hard to shake out of our consciousness.  I struggle with feeling timid and am sometimes awkward in social situations.  Throughout my years I have been called aloof because of this. I was once discussed in a consistory meeting because of these traits, as a liability to my husband who is a pastor.  Deep down, I know that this is untrue about my heart, but that label seemed to cling to my mind relentlessly.  I could not let it go.  Stepping into a room full of people, automatically I would feel my face turn red and think, I am awkward, I am aloof, and I should never leave my home. Hide, hide, and hide. Those words spoken played on my deepest weaknesses.

If I am honest with myself, I may come off that way to people that do not know me.  I also know I care about people deeply.  I know if I am able to get to know someone in a smaller setting, a friendship almost always emerges.  Rather than letting words spoken overcome me, I have been learning to let go of them.

You cannot let unkind words define you or press you down. You are more than the sum of words. 

The World, I think, is desperate for a little kindness.

People long to be known, heard, and understood.

We all have a story.  God created us.   

If all the time spent arguing, being unkind, and posting negative responses was channeled into words that restored, imagine the possibilities.

Words are POWERFUL.

Use yours to:

Restore~ Encourage~ Give Hope~ Support~ Comfort~

Bring Consolation~Rescue~Fortify~ Inspire~ Reassure~

Empower~Build Up~Redeem~Revitalize~ Strengthen


Life is not Forever

Do you have certain books that you pull out and read again and again in different seasons of your life?  Somehow the words that make up these special books anchor you back to reality or bring comfort and hope. 

Heaven Your Real Home by Joni Eareckson Tada is an anchoring book for me.

Joni experienced a diving accident as a teenager that left her paralyzed from the shoulders down.  She overcame depression and suicidal thoughts to become an artist, author, singer, speaker, and founder of Joni and Friends, a non-profit for the disabled community.  You can visit the JAF ministries website here http://www.joniandfriends.org/  There are great resources for kids and families on this site.

Through her process of recovery Joni thought about Heaven often.  The result of these discussions and study provided the material for her book.

Life moves so very quickly.  I sometimes forget what I am a part of, what we are all a part of, is SO MUCH BIGGER.  I would like to share some of my favorite parts for encouragement to you.  Also, for hope that you might know without a doubt that you are amazing.


1 John 3:2   What we will be has not yet been made known.

~Somehow, somewhere within you is the pattern of the heavenly person you will become.

~In every person there is a facet of the Lord’s loveliness that only he or she can uniquely reflect.



Acts 17:26  From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

~Through faith we understand we are not physical beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a physical experience.  Peter Kreeft



Do you ever feel restless, hungry for more? Life is not forever, heaven is your real home.

~For me, true contentment on earth means asking less of this life because more is coming in the next.


Encouragement: Seeing with New Eyes








My son loves playing cars with eyes.  He wishes for our whole family to sit close by him and witness their amazing adventures.  This expansive love for cars with eyes began three years ago and the devotion continues to run strong.  One morning I sat on the floor of his bedroom, silent screaming in my mind.  (Does anyone else find themselves silent screaming from time to time?) I wondered how many hours of my life had transpired in his detailed world of die-cast cars.

I scooped up the whole container and we ended up at the kitchen counter.  That morning a whole new World opened up, where the cars could be mixed and measured in bowls and cliff jump over a river, from one side of the sink to another.  The change in scenery cut off my silent screams. Now when we hit a rut, we try to do play doh on the stair steps, board games under the table, and books in a pillow filled bathtub (of course accompanied by car with eyes).

Being stuck in a rut dims the vastness of our sight.

  • Drive on a road you have never been on
  • Pray alone in a dark closet
  • Read a book in a corner of your house you have never sat in
  • Go through the grocery store in the opposite direction
  • Take a walk in a new neighborhood
  • If you are super brave sit in a different pew on Sunday morning
  • Jump on your bed, see if your room looks differently, seriously it will make you giggle

Pray for the gift of clarity, a new insight, a new perspective.

See the World with new eyes.

There is more to people, to situations, to everyday life than what we initially see.

Book Review: Half the Sky

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Half the Sky

Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Woman Worldwide

By: Nicolas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are a married couple and winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism.  In Half the Sky they tell the stories of woman and children who experience oppression in the developing World.

Listen to their stories.

Much of the oppression these woman and children face is delivered from the hands of their own families and communities due to deeply ingrained social structures.  The content is difficult; 21st century slaves, prostitution, rape, maternal health, education as a key to overcoming poverty and war, and finally microcredit.

Many of the brave woman and children who break free return to help others from the pain they have known. Their courage will inspire and change you.

Learn more about the Half the Sky Movement.


Lay Hurdles Flat












In sixth grade we could go to the track across the road during lunch time.  I remember one lunch break clearly, not many people were around, so I jumped over a hurdle that sat on the track.  Later that spring I signed up for the 50m hurdles in the annual field day competition.  I got a ribbon! (There may have only been three participants.) I knew deep in my heart I was destined to run the hurdles in track and field.

[In junior high I had a perm.  I had brown glasses that were large.  I had braces.  I was so shy I think I might have growled at people that got too close.]

I did run those hurdles, the 100m and the 300m, all the way through my senior year in high school. Was I good at those hurdles? Not especially.  I had unfortunate form, my leading leg that should have been straight, liked to bend. Instead of seamlessly alternating my jumping, I shuffled so I could jump off my right leg every time.

I kept right on jumping though, because I liked them for some reason.

Our track still had cinder when I was in high school.  We did not have many home meets because of this.  At one home meet my entire extended family sat in the bleachers and many, many classmates.  I stood next to my rival from the north.  I was winning! Two hurdles from the finish line, I bit the dust in a major way, cinder and blood from ankles to knees.  I got up and finished the race.  Everyone I loved witnessed my last place finish. I love those moments.

I have done some spectacular fails in my life thus far.

I have done some spectacular never-even-made-it-off the starting blocks too.

I respect my fails more than the times I never even tried.

Keep going you can do it!


Cinder, blood, awkward embarrassment, and all.

Space to Give










If your mind is cluttered and your schedule packed full, there is no space left to give.

If you make mistakes and do not forgive yourself, there is no space left to move forward.

If you do not acknowledge your imperfections, there is no space left to grow.

  • Remember: each small thing you do can compound into something larger.
  • Remember: the World is not going to end if everything is not checked off your to-do list.
  • Remember: you will make mistakes, have the courage to apologize and move forward.
  • Seasons of life change and determine how much you are able to give.
  • Sometimes all the strength we can gather needs to go to young children, a sick or aging family member, or another difficult situation.  You are still making a profound difference.
  • Slowing down to take care of yourself allows you to be better equipped to care for others.

Be Kind to Yourself.  Your heart will expand with space to give.