Celebrate Marriage Oklahoma

Over the past year, God has been making some pretty amazing connections in my life and the life of my husband, Steven.  It has been so awesome to watch the way that God connects the dots.  I have met people that will forever change my life.  One of those connections is with Clarence and Alicia Hill. Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 1.07.21 PM  They are pastors of Church Ablaze.  Clarence is also the Director of Eye to Eye Marriage Community.  They both have been like meeting our long, lost family.  I’m pretty sure this 6’8″ African American man is my brother from another mother.  It has been such a tremendous blessing work along side of them to help bring the conversation of Marriage and Family to the forefront in Oklahoma City.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to speak at a Celebrate Marriage Oklahoma rally.  For Steven and I sharing our testimony of how God has restored our family is something that we love to do.  The rally was to help gain support of the Covenant Walk that we will be doing on October 13, 2014.  This walk will be an event to raise awareness of the need for support in our community for Families and Marriage.  I would like to take this opportunity to personally invite you to join Steven and I and Bridge Builder Marriage Ministry as well as many other organizations as we march from the Myriad Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City to the State Capital.  Marriage and family are so important that spending this holiday bringing the conversation to the attention of the city is more than worth the time you will spend.  So please join us.  You can find out more information here.

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Bucket List VS Vision Lists ~ Do You Have One?

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.43.00 PMAn amazing thing has started in our family.  I am happy to report I was the source of it.  Does that sound prideful?  Well, maybe but when something I did starts to make an impression on people in my circle I get pretty excited.

A few months ago, I read a blog by one of the pastors I work with at Victory Church.  Pastor Ryan Latham has a blog that I enjoy reading.  He and his amazing familyScreen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.34.53 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.35.12 PM are truly an inspiration to me.  When I think about marriages that are true and solid and lived totally for Christ, theirs is one that comes to mind.  They truly are a great example of a Godly marriage and family.  Back to the blog that is the inspiration for the transformation in my family.  He wrote a blog about his Bucket List.  Now I know that probably brings to mind the movie with the same title and truthfully I have never been a big fan of bucket lists.  They seem sort of morbid to me.  However, when I read Ryan’s blog post, I was struck at how much more it sounded like a vision list to me.  This is something that I am very fond of.  Well, after reading his post I was inspired to write my own vision list.

In our breakfast nook at home we have a GIANT post it note pad that my husband and I use for diagraming book chapters and scheduling ideas for marriage conferences, this, I thought would be the perfect thing to write my vision list on. After all, it was big enough, and what isn’t cool about a giant post it note.  After much thought I began.  Ryan inspired me to dream big.  So I started with the books I want to write, followed by seeing some family members come to know Christ, and then added a pretty large donation I would like to make to help my son’s new church.  There are several other things on the list but you get the idea.  After completing the list I thought about moving it to the bedroom but truthfully, I forgot to.  Then I began to notice that as people would come to the house they would gravitate to the walls with all the paper stuck on them.  My vision list was a favorite place for many people to pause.  You could see the wheels turning as they stopped and thought.  Many made comments and some even said they were going to make their own.  I liked this a lot.

The first person to come around to the idea of a vision list was our daughter’s amazing boyfriend Matthew Myers.  Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 12.01.50 PMAs you can tell by the picture, he is adorable and I am so glad he is part of our family.  Truthfully, Matthew started his vision list because, well, I made him.  Currently it has only one thing on it, but hey it’s a start.  The next people to get on the vision list train are our son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Brianna.  They are the community pastors for Faith Church in Hinton, Oklahoma.  I just received a picture of their vision list.  So excited!!!!!!!!

So now, what is on your vision list.  What big things do you want to do or where would you like to go?  What would you like to see happen in your family and your marriage?  With the end of 2013 here, now is a great time to spend some time making your vision list for 2014.  Habakkuk 2:2 says:

2 And the Lord answered me:  “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.

So whether you call it a “bucket list” or a “vision list,” take some time and do one today.  You will be amazed how when you see it on paper, it quickly becomes reality in your life.

Families Can Be Funky

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 6.22.36 AMI was on Facebook recently and I saw a sign that said “As two families are becoming one, we ask that you choose a seat not a side.”  I’m would love to give credit to the person who made that statement originally but in my research I was unable to figure that out so if you know please share it with me.

As I thought about this statement, I thought about the magnitude of the truth it conveyed.  Being a wife, mother, and a mother-in-law, I have found myself on both sides of the coin.

When two people get married it often brings with it two very different families and therefore two very different family cultures.  While in most cases, the guys are less likely to bring their family into the marriage, girls are highly likely to.  I remember my mom would always say “You have a son until he takes a wife, you have a daughter all your life.”  This is true a lot of the time.  This is not necessarily bad or good but can many times be one or the other.

Before you get married is the best time to take a good look at what each family can bring to the marriage.  It is important to discuss such things as family culture, family holiday traditions, and religious beliefs and practices.  By doing this you can save yourselves a lot of unnecessary problems.

If you are the parent or parent-in-law/family member or family-in-law member I encourage you to do your best to not choose sides but choose the side of promoting a healthy, loving, God-centered marriage.  Making this choice, you will not only help the marriage but you will help impact future generations.  Your support can and will make a difference.

Not Now I’m Busy

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 10.14.19 PMWhen it comes to time, we all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and 365 days in a year.  However, I frequently hear many people saying I just need a few more hours to get everything done.  Does this sound like you?  I am the Small Groups Director for Victory Church in Oklahoma City.  At my church, I lead 4 small groups as well as all the ministry required for the Small Groups department.   My husband, Steven and I are the founders of Bridge Builder Marriage Ministry.  We are Marriage and Relationship Life Coaches.  We are authors.    We have three children, 2 daughters-in-law and 3 amazing grandchildren.  Our life is to say the least, very full.  That is both good and bad.  Having many things in your life to be thankful for and having many ways to invest in the lives of others is a great way to impact the world for the Kingdom of God.  However, at the same time, it is important that we don’t get so busy that we don’t have time for the really important people in our lives.

Many times in the past I have worn busyness as a badge of honor.  I am all about accomplishing things.  In fact, my husband knows the best way to speak my love language is to take note and compliment my completion of tasks.  I’m just a “get er done” kind of girl.  In fact, for many years, he referred to me as the “White Tornado.”  This same nickname was also adopted by the girls I worked with prior to coming to work at Victory Church.  I am great at getting things done, the problem is many times I would plow people over and not even recognize it until the wounded and dead were lying all around.  This is an area where I have to be very aware all the time.  We all remember the Biblical story of Mary and Martha.  In Luke 10:38-42 we see Jesus taught Martha that busyness can prevent you from the most important things in your life.

38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.f Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Have you found yourself in a place where you are beginning to feel like you haven’t had any time alone with your husband that didn’t include snoring.  If you are doing nothing more than sleeping in the same bed together you are in a dangerous place.  If your life is so incredibly busy that you don’t have time to spend with the people your truly love.  It is time to re-evaluate your life.  At the end of the day, what we accomplish pales in comparison to the relationships we build and honor.  I want to encourage you to take some time and evaluate your life.  Eliminate anything that really is not important, be intentional about making time for God and for the people who are the most important in your life.  These choices will be worth more than you know.

Living with the Best Example

Steven 1Because today is the birthday of my AMAZING husband Steven, I just wanted to take some time to tell you a little about how I met him.  Because I too am a divorce statistic, I am thrilled to say that God turned my mourning into dancing when He lead me to the most amazing guy ever.  How does a girl from a rural farm community of about 500 people in western Oklahoma find an amazing husband in Minneapolis, MN?  Well, the world wide web of course.  We when met online this was all relatively new to most people in my neck of the woods.  God will use anything to accomplish His will.  We met online on a christian website.  We chatted online and soon moved to talking on the phone.  Most people are shocked when we tell them our first month’s phone bills combined were over $900.  As you can see, we talked on the phone a lot.  (The next month got better when we found a better phone plan) We usually didn’t start talking on the phone until my kids were in bed which was usually after 9:30pm.  We would talk for hours.  After the first couple of weeks of talking, Steven suggested we start doing Bible study together.  (He had me at Bible Study)  We began to study the Word and pray together.  God is so amazing and to this day we marvel at how He was able to transcend space and make us feel like we were in the same room as we studied and prayed.  This went on for a couple of months. We learned more about each other and even knew, as crazy at it sounds, that this was truly God’s plan for us.  Fast forward to the December, 26.  They day I first saw him in person.  I bravely flew to Minneapolis to meet a man I felt like I had known for years.  Not everyone in my life thought that was a such a great idea but hey when God says it’s okay, you just do it!  We laugh when we tell people our first thoughts when we laid eyes on each other as I came down the escalator at the Minneapolis airport. Steven’s first thought….”Wow, she is way more beautiful in person.”  My first thought, “Wow, he is…………short.”  Okay so not exactly what you expected me to think but hey I was completely WOWed by his beautiful blue eyes.  We spent a week together and I knew from that day day on that Steve was the man God had for me.  During the week I was there, I got terribly sick.  Steven waited on me hand and foot.  He brought me flowers and music.  He didn’t even get upset when I fell asleep during our evening prayer a couple of nights in a row.  One of my favorite things that Steven always says is, “I knew if I could look at her with her hair all slicked down from sweat and without any makeup, as sick as she could be and want to be with her more than anything, I could love her forever.”  He is so amazing and to this day, he continues to be the ultimate example of a servant.  We continued with the phone, email, and text messaging form of communication with the occasional visits to Oklahoma by Steven for several more months.  Then finally after what seemed like an eternity he moved to Oklahoma and became my husband.

For the next 10 years he has spent his life devoting himself to God and to becoming the standard by which my daughter and countless other women set their standard by for husbands.  I laugh when my daughter says, “Is it bad that all my friends are like Steve?”  What an amazing compliment.

What is the standard that he has set you might ask?  Well, let me just list a few of the things that come to mind:

  • First and foremost, He passionately loves God and His word more than he loves me.  
  • He seeks every day to find out more about what God says about being a loving husband and he implements that in his daily life.
  • He is self-sacrificing all the time.
  • He speaks and prays the Word over me and our children every day.
  • He thinks of us first always.
  • He is kind, supportive, loving and thoughtful.
  • He is funny.
  • He is extremely smart.
  • He is hard working and diligent.
  • He is a loyal friend.

This list is just a few of the many qualities that I have found in him that make him wonderful.  I am truly blessed beyond measure to have such an amazing husband.

So ladies and girls, when you begin to think about the husband that you want, feel free to use Steven as the standard by which you choose.  You will find that the characteristics  he demonstrates will not leave you short in the amazing husband department.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!  Steven, I love you.

Fall Most ~ No Shame in My Game!

Family is one of the greatest gifts that God gives us.  We all come into the world as part of a birth family.  For some this is great!  For some this is good! For some it is not good at all.  If we get married we add more people to our family.  When I married into the Zimmerman family I was blessed with the addition of some of the most amazing people in the world.  Like me, they are not perfect but they are amazing none the less.  They have encouraged me to grow in ways I never thought I could and for the last nearly 10 years I have done just that.  A lot of the inspiration has come from one powerfully, strong lady, Eileen Zimmerman the matriarch of the family.   She has taught me much about life and love.  She has done this with words but even more in example.  I am truly blessed to call her my mother-in-law.  She will be turning 70 in October.  To celebrate her birthday she decided to go skydiving.  Yes, she is that strong.  This would not be her first skydive however, she had done that 26 years ago.  When I asked her what the inspiration was for the first skydive she said she had recently lost her husband and realized that life could be short and you should do the things you have always wanted to do.  Besides turning 70, she also chose to jump on the day before what would have been the 50th wedding anniversary of she and her husband, John.

The family decided that many of them would join her in the jump and it would become a great celebration.  14 people in all planned to jump that day.  Many more come in support.I was so excited to be considered part of the jump crowd.  You see I will be turning 50 in October. I had planned for months for the jump.  I am usually not a fan of heights.  I don’t really like level five thrill rides and I really don’t like climbing on a ladder to change a light bulb.  I was sure however, that I could do this one thing.  I visualized myself jumping out the plane and landing on the ground.  Yes, I could do this.  Hey you only live once.  So off to the Forest Lake airport we went.  My husband, son Levon, and daughter-in-law Jessica were going to jump with me.  We went through the mandatory pre-jump training and signed up in for our turn to jump.  Of the 14 we were originally scheduled to be the last ones to jump. After watching several people jump, we asked Levon and Jessica if they could go last and let us jump earlier.  They happily agreed.  So when it was our turn, we were fitted with our harnesses and given some additional instructions.  We were then crammed into a tiny little plane.  There was barely enough room for the five of us (Steven, me our two tandem masters and the pilot)  We took the 20 minute ride to an altitude of 10,000 feet.  I was scheduled to jump first.  Steven would then leave the plane a minute or so after me.  Since some of you may not have jumped before, I will give you a short rundown of how it works.  You sit on your knees with the tandem master VERY close behind you.  He connects his harness (the one with the parachute) to your harness.  The door to the plane opens and he steps out onto a tiny little step with his right foot.  You then step out with your right foot you begin to turn your body outside the plane with only your knee left holding you in the plane.  Then you hear 1…2…3 and voila you are skydiving.  Super simple……well, maybe not.  I followed the instructions just like was told.  Right foot out, check.  Lean of the plane, check. Hear 1, 2, check.  Lean out the plan with only my left knee holding me in the plane, check.  What happened next was not planned.  The tandem master said one, two and it was followed by “I CAN”T DO THIS!!!!!!”  Stunned, Ryan, the tandem master didn’t know what to do.  To say the look on his face was that of shock would be the understatement of the century.  My hand reached for the handle on the doorframe and the next 30 seconds or so was sort of a blur.  In an effort to not stall the plane and kill us all, both tandem masters (mine and Steven’s) grabbed me and closed the door and yelled to pilot to circle around.  When you look out of the plane and can barely see the ground and the wind is passing by your face at roughly 120 miles per hour (okay the speed is a guess) a girl can get a little nervous.  I was unhooked from Ryan’s harness and managed to scoot myself to the other side of the TINY little plane.  Steven and DJ his tandem master changed places with Ryan and I, and prepared for Steven’s jump.  I was re-hooked to Ryan for safety. Yes, I had visions of the people being sucked out of the plane when a hole was blown in it by a bomb.  They opened the door and off went Steven.  He thought it was wonderful by the way.  Ryan and I joined the pilot for a nice, gentle ride back to earth.  This of course, was not how I planned to end the skydive but hey at nearly 50 you can make your own decisions even if they are at the last minute.  Believe you me I had a 20 minute flight back to the airport full of thoughts of what will everyone think, what will I say to all the people at work (most of them 20-30 something dudes who already give me a hard time about being old).  Well, to them I will say “There’s no shame in my game.”  I did something a lot of people will never do.  I lived to tell about it and I followed my own heart.  Was there a lesson to be learned from this?  Yes, indeed.  Life is an adventure and you just have to try things even if they don’t turn out like you plan.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Go have some fun.  

A Life That Changed Everything!!

Almost 3 years ago, I met a wonderful girl.  Teressa Harp was 10 at that time.  She was vivacious and had a smile that would light up a room like it was the 4th of July.  At the time I met her she had recently been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  For most people this would have been devastating and in fact for the family it was.  I must say I can’t image what it would be like to have my child diagnosed with a terminal condition.  I watch as the family learned a new way to live their life.  I watched as Teressa underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and yet never lost her zeal and love for people.  Whether she was in the hospital for treatments, hanging with her friends or spending time with family she had an amazing gift for putting people at ease.  There was an incredible peace that surrounded her, you couldn’t help but be engulfed in it if  you were with her.

Teressa got the opportunity to meet celebrities, athletes, and many ordinary people.  Everyone of them had their life changed after their interaction with her.  She was involved in the “Make A Wish” foundation and got the opportunity to experience some wonderful things.  She made some wonderful memories for her family to hold the rest of their lives.

A few months ago, after a period of remission, Teressa found out the cancer had returned. She boldly made the decision not to seek any more treatment.  This seems like a huge decision for a 12 year old.  However, whenever I talked to the family about it they always indicated that she was confident in her decision.  How can a 12 year old be confident in the decision not to seek further treatment?  One reason, she was more confident in her relationship with Jesus Christ and the promise He made her of heaven.  Teressa knew this decision would probably end her life her on earth and in fact it did.  On July 26, 2012 Teressa left this world to meet Jesus in Heaven.  For most people this would have been unbearable, but for anyone who knew Teressa, there was a comfort that most had never experienced concerning this transition.  You see for that last few months she spent a great deal of her time telling people about her upcoming trip to Heaven.  She insisted that she not have a funeral but instead a party.  She made everyone promise….no black, only bright colored, comfortable clothes and tons of balloons.  After all, we were celebrating her entrance in Heaven and what girl doesn’t want to make an entrance with that kind of style.

So back to today.  I joined many of the people from my Small Group went to Teressa’s Party.  It was indeed filled with balloons of every color, bright flowers and yes no black.   The room was filled with people from all walks of life like myself who came to the party of a little girl who changed their life.  The party ended with a wonderful release of hundreds of balloons So for me, I just want to take the time to say thank you to Teressa for sharing her faith in Jesus Christ and for her incredible ability to help other people see what she saw.  She totally got it.  As Christians we spend our lives living with faith in the promise of Heaven.  Yet, often we forget that when a Christian moves their home to Heaven this is indeed cause for a party.  Yes there is a loss in hearts and lives that no one else can fill, but this loss is temporary and we have an eternity to spend together with the Christians who have gone before us.  So one last time I just want to say “She Got it.”  Teressa really got what being a Christian is all about.  So for now I will say, Teresa, enjoy the party and I’ll see you soon.