Someone I love very much has accused me of saying "Whatever" too much. 

"You wouldn't use that in your writing," he said.

Actually, I thought. Maybe I will. 

Whatever emotions you are feeling today are important. Emotions are the barometers of our souls. Listen to your feelings, respect their message, and honor the truths they tell.

Whatever lessons you are learning today are necessary. Failures are only course corrections to redirect our journeys. Decide to learn from what goes wrong and choose a way to make it right.

Whatever gifts you receive today are worth opening. Blessings often arrive in disguised packages. Appreciate and give thanks for every experience that comes your way.

Whatever you seek is available.

Whatever God shows you has meaning.

Whatever place he leads you has purpose.

Whatever challenge you face will help you move forward.

Today may you find whatever it is you ask and seek. Know that whatever your prayer, God hears every word.

IMG_0253And to my Loved One: Remember you are loved, whatever you say.

 

What is God saying to you today? Where is he calling and leading you?

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I bought a new duffle bag to pack for this summer's trip. Stacked on my spare bed are the piles of clothes and bags of toiletries I plan to take for seven days at the campground in Michigan.

Among the items I consider necessary for seven days away from home:

*Two swimsuits

*Two beach towels

*Two pairs of flip-flops, one for the beach and one for the shower

*Two pairs of sunglasses, or maybe I need to take all three

*Sunscreen

*Tennies because I hope to tackle the high-ropes obstacle course this year

*A good book to read on the almost-14-hour bus ride. This year I am taking Room by Emma Donoghue.

*GinGins ginger candy because I tend to get car sick when I read on the bus

*Pepto Bismol in case the GinGins aren't enough

*Snack bars and string cheese, because if I don't get car sick on the way, I will definitely get hungry.

I will be making this year's journey to camp with 11 teen moms from our YoungLives group, their children, and five other mentors. We will spend seven days together swimming, ziplining, dancing, singing, and praying.

I will be packing other necessities to help make camp a fantastic week.

*A sense of adventure to try new things like the ropes course and paddle boarding

*A sense of humor to laugh at myself when I fall off the paddle board. Hopefully I won't fall from the ropes course.

*An open mind to get to know new people, accept new assignments, and develop a new attitude

*An open heart filled with forgiveness, abundant patience, and positive energy

*The belief we are making this journey together to share an awesome experience and build caring relationships

*The knowledge this week will be wonderful, no matter what happens!

I'm also leaving space in my new duffle bag to bring back fun memories, renewed confidence, stronger friendships, deeper faith, and hopefully all three pairs of sunglasses.

Where are your adventures taking you this summer? What will you pack to prepare for your travels?

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13397058_871715679623257_2007666293_oThis week I asked my friend Heather to share the story of how she chose her daughter's name, Alice. These are Heather's words.

 

When Alice grows up, I'm going to tell her the story about why I picked her name. I hope she likes it.

In fifth grade I had to do a report about Teddy Roosevelt, but when I Googled him, I was more interested in his daughter Alice. While her father was in office, Alice worked to help people with tuberculosis, even though her family told her it was dangerous. Alice was rebellious and did things like climb on the White House roof. She was fearless and had a pet snake. But though she was a rebel, she was kind too, and she cared about other people.

I chose to name my daughter Alice because I want her to be strong, independent, and outgoing like Alice Roosevelt. I want her to be self-confident and fearless, but also caring and kind.

I hope my daughter Alice will stand up for what she believes in. I want her to know that every human life has worth, and I hope she will help others because it's the right thing to do.

My daughter inspires me because I have social anxiety, and when something bad happens, it shuts me down. The other day Alice fell off the kitchen step onto the carpet. She cried for a minute, but then she went back to what she was doing. She didn't let it ruin her whole day.

13389266_871715692956589_1637685165_oAnd she's happy to meet new people. Since she turned a year old, she's not afraid of meeting new people anymore.

I want to tell my daughter that it doesn't matter where your family's from, you can still do your own thing.

My prayer for Alice Marie is that she will be fearless, confident, happy to be herself, and appreciative of all that makes her unique.

"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver or gold" (Proverbs 22:1).

How did you choose the names of your children? Do you  have an interesting story about what makes them special?

 

 

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IMG_0061Loved One,

I know the past was more difficult than you deserved.

You learned to adapt to your constantly changing circumstances. I pray you remember that life is always moving. Have the courage to travel to new places, learn new lessons, and seek new adventures.

 

I know you were forced to take on responsibility beyond your years.

You learned to work hard, set goals, and look forward to success. I pray you have faith in your deep reserves of power and strength. Never fear your freedom to choose your future and create the life you want to live.

I know you sometimes felt alone and afraid.

You experienced the grief of loss and uncertainty. I pray you understand the importance of showing compassion toward others in pain. Remain forever thoughtful, caring, and kind. Be cheerful, generous, and unafraid to love again.

My Daughter,

I pray you always know the value of your life to God and trust him to give you all you need. Be true to the Spirit that calls you, see the good in others, and believe in your unlimited potential. Bring hope and grace to the world, have confidence in your abilities, and be grateful for everything you receive. Always, always know you are loved.

 

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Towering above Hannibal, Missouri, 244 concrete stairs lead up the hillside to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.

We ground through the laborious climb, one tortuous step at a time, gripping the metal handrail and gasping in the humid air, until we finally stood, swaying, on the topmost step.

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We journeyed for the view from the top. Through a break in the trees we watched the Mississippi River flowing peacefully far below.

We barely had time to catch our breath before starting back down the 244 steps to the street and the car, but we managed to find a few insights along the way.

We built courage.

A fall on the sharp, stone steps could have been back-breaking. To complete the climb we had to keep looking forward, stay focused on the beacon at the top, and patiently plod toward our goal. We confront our fear of falling when we look past the cracked and crooked steps and just keep climbing.

We helped our companions.

The walk is too long to tackle alone. To make it all the way we need a hand to hold onto, someone to pull us onward when we grow tired, a friend to encourage us when we feel like giving up. Friends propel us forward when our goal seems distant and difficult.

We gained perspective.

When we look down from above, the world seems still and silent. The sky is cool and clear, the wind blows the trees, and the river's dark currents flow without our consent or command. We realize that our power is very small, the world is bigger than we imagine, and only God gives us the strength to put one foot in front of the other.

We will always have new mountainsides to conquer and steeper steps to climb. The only way to appreciate the view is to muster our courage and make the grueling trek to the top. We can never guess what we will discover when we get there.

Where is your climb taking you today? Who are your companions on your way up?

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