1. I’m Releasing My First Book!

    August 25, 2014 by admin

    I’m excited to share that I have a new book called Ten Marriage Lessons From a Semi-Newlywed: Make Your Relationship Come Alive! It’s a collection of ten of my most popular marriage articles.

    It is available right now on Amazon and Kindle. Click here to buy on Amazon.

    It makes a great gift for anyone who is engaged or married, and also for singles who want to prepare for a healthy marriage.

    Here’s more from the back cover…

    Ten Marriage Lessons From a Semi-Newlywed is a quick and encouraging read full of biblical wisdom for real life situations. With a friendly yet no nonsense approach, Rayni will help you discover what it takes to create and sustain a healthy and thriving relationship. Whether you are single or engaged, have been married for two weeks or 40 years, these lessons relate to every relationship.

    Some of the subjects covered include healthy communication, forgiveness, emotional health, financial health, ways to stay connected, speaking well of each other, joyfully serving and receiving, and more!

    I hope you will enjoy reading it and giving a copy to someone who could use some hope and encouragement in their relationship!

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  2. Shine!

    August 8, 2014 by admin

    Have you ever spent time with someone who shines? Someone who has a healthy confidence and isn’t afraid to use their gifts and abilities to the full? As a result, attention is drawn to them and opportunities arise; yet they’re not seeking the attention, they’re simply living full-out.

    I have a friend who is like that. He’s talented, fun, funny and people are just drawn to him. He is living full-out and unashamedly using the gifts God has given him to serve others and to glorify God.

    He shines simply because he’s living out who God created him to be. Watching him makes me want to live fully, too.

    It’s contagious!

    “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Nelson Mandela

    St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

    It brings glory to God when we are living with passion and freedom; being who He uniquely created each of us to be.

    And yet it isn’t always easy to do.

    I’m a major introvert. I don’t like to be the center of attention and when I do something well and receive attention for it, it usually makes me extremely uncomfortable. And yet, some of the gifts God has given me cause me to be in front of other people. Like leading or speaking or teaching.

    My initial tendency is to shrink back.

    When I receive attention it makes me uncomfortable and makes me feel bad for others who aren’t receiving that attention. I don’t want the attention and so sometimes I don’t want to use those specific gifts that bring attention.

    But here’s the problem, God created me to use those gifts. For HIS glory! I have no business shrinking back. I was made by God to shine.

    And guess what? So were you!

    Jesus says to and about us, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

    We get our light from Jesus. He is THE light.

    “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

    So…

    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

    In that verse, the Greek word for “see” is horaó. It means “to see, to look upon” but it also means “to experience”.

    So, whether someone sees you doing a good work, or they directly experience the effect of your good work, God will be glorified.

    Can you imagine a world where no one is living to their fullest potential?

    Where no one is living the abundant life Jesus came to give us? Where everyone is living a dulled down version of themselves because they were either afraid to be brilliant or were afraid others would be offended at the attention they receive from shining brilliantly?

    Where would our world be?

    We’re all meant to shine the light of Christ. We’re meant to use the gifts He’s given us. If we shrink back and hide that serves no one. Only fear or misplaced humility makes one shrink. The love of God casts out all fear and makes one rise up with boldness and shine.

    Because in the end, it’s not about shining for our own sake or our own glory; it’s about God’s light shining through us for His glory.

    Like I said before, it’s contagious. So, shine. Go ahead, do it. There will be a chain reaction and someone else will be encouraged to light up and shine, too.

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  3. Let Your Past Launch You Into the Future

    July 16, 2014 by admin

    Recently I had the opportunity to take a journey down memory lane while I visited my college alma mater. While I was there I also visited the campus ministry I was a part of for six years; 4 years attending as a student and two years working there in full-time ministry after I graduated.

    My relationship with God and my spiritual life were dramatically impacted for the better through my time there. It’s a place that holds so many years of memories. Many of my closest friendships began during that time. It was so nostalgic and special to visit again after 11 years!

    On the campus ministry’s property there is a large church building (affectionately known as the bomb shelter) that was built in the ‘70s. It will soon have to be completely torn down and replaced due to ongoing structural problems.

    I have spent countless, transformative hours in that building since the age of 18 and it’s sad to think that my recent visit could be the last time I get to go inside before it’s gone forever.

    There have been a few times over the years that I have thought, maybe I could move back there and work in college ministry again. I love that age group, those transformational college years, and I so loved my time there.

    But this time as I sat in that building, my thoughts took a different turn.

    On the wall is lettering that quotes Jesus saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”(Mark 11:17).

    As I kept staring at that sentence I felt like God was calling me forward, not back.

    Forward.

    Even though it was nostalgic and fun and so special to visit, Jesus is calling me forward. And He’s calling you forward, too. That means different things for each of us, but He has much for us to do NOW.

    Not back then. Now.

    Although I’m not that old yet, after my recent birthday I’m beginning to feel my age more and more. I’m reminded of how short life is and that whatever God has given me to do, I’d best get on with it.

    Have you ever felt that way?

    It really doesn’t matter what age you are. God still has more for you!

    I recently heard about a man in his 80s who lives in Northern Ireland. He came to know Jesus last year and he said before he died He just wanted to lead one person to faith. He has now led many, many people to faith and he’s just getting started!

    There is so much that is possible.

    In fact, with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

    What are you passionate about? What makes your heart sing? What gifts and abilities has God given you that you’ve been sitting on…waiting…..burying…hesitating to use?

    Well, here’s our wake up call. Let’s get moving!

    Loving people, helping others, using the gifts God has given us, and sharing the gracious gospel of Jesus with others.

    So…

    +What do you need to begin today that in a year’s time you will be glad you started now?

    +What have you been hanging on to from the past that you need to let go of in order to live more fully in the present and move into the future?

    +Is there someone you need to forgive from your past? Or maybe forgive yourself?

    It’s great to take some time occasionally to remember the past. But don’t get stuck there. Be present now and keep moving forward with God. It’s the best adventure ever!

     

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  4. Daring to Dream!

    July 3, 2014 by admin

    Hi Everyone! Today I’m back over at Start Marriage Right writing about the importance of taking time to dream with your spouse and to not let your dreams die.

    I also include an inspirational story about how one couple with 9 kids made their mutual dream come true. Even if you’re single I hope this will be an encouraging article for you.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Many people believe that once they become an adult and get married, or “settle down” or “get a real job” or have children, their dreams are forever out of reach. But my husband and I are intentional about supporting each other’s dreams. We partner together in prayer and look for ways to do our part in making those dreams happen.

    Sometimes for a season our dreams do go on the back burner and they are not attainable for that period of time. But God has given us dreams and desires for a reason and I believe He wants to walk with us in fulfilling those good dreams. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

     

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  5. Whose Voice Shapes Your Marriage?

    June 17, 2014 by admin

    I have a new article posted over at Start Marriage Right called Whose Voice Shapes Your Marriage?

    Here is an excerpt:

    One thing I’ve realized over the last four years of marriage is that everyone who gives marriage advice is speaking from their own experience and each person’s unique experience informs the positive or negative words they speak.

    While we can often learn from other people’s experiences we must realize that we have a choice in what advice we take in or reject. We also have a voice in shaping our marriage…for better or worse.

    Ladies, have you ever been around your girlfriends when they start complaining about their husbands? I make it a point never to say anything negative about my husband to anyone. If I have an issue with him I pray about it and address it directly with him.

    My husband also made the same decision. When he’s around friends who start making negative comments about their wives, he starts talking about all of the things he loves about me.

    We want to use our voices to speak well of each other and to speak well of marriage. We can use our voices to speak truth, love and encouragement into our marriage and to others who are struggling with their marriages. We can take the initiative to shape the marriage conversation in a positive way. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE OF THIS ARTICLE

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  6. The Importance of Showing Up

    June 5, 2014 by admin

    There’s a quote that says, “90% of life is simply showing up.”

    But what about the things that we don’t want to show up to…but we have to?

    Or the things that we do want to do, but are afraid to begin?

    I want to encourage you to show up anyway and see what God does as a result.

    When I sit down to write, I would say that the majority of the time I already have an idea and even a plan. I’ve made a mental outline or have a verse or two to go off of. In those times the words very often flow easily and I am able to write something fairly quickly.

    But then there are the times when I have nothing to say.

    Ironically, this often happens when I have a deadline for an article. I need to get going on it but I feel like I literally just have nothing to say on the topic.

    When that happens it’s easy to procrastinate. It’s easy to keep the computer closed, day after day as the deadline draws near. I dread sitting down to begin. I have to will myself to just start.

    But how do you begin if don’t have anything to say?

    So, I pray that God will give me wisdom and words and then I just start writing anything that comes to mind. I remind myself that I can edit later, so it doesn’t matter if it all doesn’t make sense at the moment.

    Just begin. Just show up and start.

    In those times, as I begin to write, I immediately want to quit.

    I write a few sentences and want to stop. I make myself keep going. I write more and it’s just not coming together so I have to keep willing myself to sit there and keep writing. Just keep going.

    Every single time I find that if I make myself show up and push through for long enough, something good happens.

    What I’m writing all begins to come together and starts to make sense. Bible verses, stories or quotes come to mind. One idea leads to another and before I know it I have a solid draft of an article or blog.

    Even when we think we have nothing to offer, when we simply show up and are willing, God blesses the little that we do have and multiples it, just like He did with the fishes and the loaves. (see Mark 6:30-44)

    There is always enough when God wants to give something away through us.

    There will always be enough when it comes from His hand.

    So…

    +What do you need to show up to today in your life?

    +What are you running from that you need to face and begin?

    Make a decision today to offer up your “not enough” to God and see how He will multiply it and make it “enough”, simply because you were willing to show up.

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  7. Worship in the Wilderness

    May 11, 2014 by admin

    We all love to hear testimonies of how God has healed someone or powerfully delivered them from a difficult circumstance.

    But what about the people who are still in the midst of the wilderness? Those whose healing or deliverance hasn’t come yet?

    How do we walk faithfully in the midst of “not yet”?

    As I walk through my own ongoing health issues, I’m continually learning the importance of doing the some key things that help to bring me hope in what often feels like the wilderness.

    Remain in Christ
    Jesus says, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with Me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.” John 15:4-5

    In this verse the Greek word for “remain” is “meno” and translates “to remain, abide, stay, wait.” To make your home in Christ.

    For me, it is essential to do everything I can to simply remain. Depending on what you’re going through, some days just being intentional about remaining in Christ is a victory!

    Trust
    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

    Even when I don’t understand God’s timing, I have to make a decision to trust Him; to believe that He is in control, and He is good.

    Encourage Yourself in the Lord
    Like the psalmist, sometimes we just have to tell our soul, “Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” Psalm 103

    This one is essential. Some ways I encourage myself in Christ daily are reading the Bible, listening to sermons, turning on music and worshiping God, meeting with friends, prayer, remembering the prophetic words God has spoken over me, begin giving thanks to God for everything I can think of.

    I find that I have to be intentional about doing these things. Sometimes it feels easier to throw a pity party but that doesn’t get you anywhere good. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt discouraged only to make myself be encouraged in Christ, and it instantly brings joy.

    Remain in Community
    “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…” Hebrews 10:25

    Koinonia is a Greek word that means “community, communion, joint participation, sharing and intimacy.” It’s essential for us to regularly have times of koinonia with God and with other believers.  Look for ways to connect even when you’re not feeling so great.

    This week I want to encourage you, if you’re in the midst of the wilderness, to just keep walking! Remain in Christ, trust Him, encourage yourself in the Lord, and keep fellowshipping with other believers.

    God is good and He can be trusted. He’ll deliver you in His timing…which always ends up being the right timing.

     

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  8. Lessons From a Bird Nest, Part 3

    April 30, 2014 by admin

    In recent weeks as I’ve walked out my back door I’ve noticed a growing pile of twigs and pine needles accumulating near the door. I puzzled at this until my husband mentioned that a bird had been trying to build a nest on the pipe above the door but hadn’t been successful.

    Spring is, of course, the time of year when birds everywhere are readying their nests and welcoming new little tweeters into their families. A couple years ago I wrote two posts about lessons I learned from watching the birds build nests and take care of their babies. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

    Twig by Twig
    This year, what I’m struck by is the patience of the birds as they are forced to build their nests twig by twig. They go one twig at a time because that’s all their tiny beaks can carry. And in the case of the birds who unsuccessfully attempted to build a nest on the pipe out back, there must be at least 100 twigs and pine needles lying on the ground.

    Try, fail. Try again, fail. Try again.

    At some point they figure it out and slowly but surely build their nests just in time for their intended purpose.

    What Am I Building?
    This process makes me think about my life and what little things I am intentional about doing daily in an effort to build those things I care about into something bigger.

    Some of the things I’m doing little by little are writing my first eBook, learning more French, consistently writing new blogs and articles, making new networking contacts here and there.

    There are days when I feel like all my twigs are dropping on the ground and other days I am encouraged and can see progress toward my goals.

    The completion of long term goals usually doesn’t happen overnight. But as long as you keep on going, twig by twig, you are making progress toward the goal.

    Just Keep Going
    When I’m tempted to think of my work as insignificant, I am reminded of this verse:

    “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10

    When you are moving forward in the direction God is leading you, nothing is wasted and every experience has meaning.

    This morning I was encouraged by these three quotes I read…

    “God cannot be unfaithful. He doesn’t call us to fruitless obedience. What you’re doing matters and not just now but to a future generation.” Beth Moore

    “Destiny is the domain of the dreamer who refused to give up.” Kathryn Scott

    “Faithfulness has great equity in God’s kingdom! Keep doing what God told you to do. He sees your faithfulness. He sees your patience. He sees you pressing into your calling, and He’s getting ready to open the right door, at the right time!” Paula Friedrichsen

    So…
    +What can you do today that will prepare you for the future promise God is leading you to?

    +If you feel like more of your twigs are ending up on the floor than in creating the nest, choose to be encouraged and just keep going. One twig at a time and God will open the doors to fulfill the desires of your heart in His timing.

    This week be encouraged that you will make it! Just like the birds who tried and failed and tried again. Patient. Persistent. Twig by Twig.

    P.S. I’m looking forward to doing more teaching and speaking engagements this year! Take a peek at my brand new Speaking info page.

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  9. The Look of Love

    April 19, 2014 by admin

    As we lead up to Resurrection Sunday tomorrow, there is one line that I always love to read in the gospel of Luke. It happens right when the rooster crows and Peter realizes he has denied Jesus three times.

    But first, the lead up…

    Just before Jesus was arrested He told Peter (Simon):

    “Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” Luke 22:21-32

    Jesus encourages Peter that He has prayed for him, and Peter will come through the time of testing. Peter wouldn’t have understood what this meant at the time but after he denied Jesus he must have thought back to this.

    Jesus gave Peter a prophetic word of hope that he would need in his darkest hour.

    Then Jesus is betrayed by Judas arrested and taken to the courtyard of the Chief Priest’s house. As Peter is trying to see what will happen to Jesus, several different people speak to Peter and he denies that he even knows Jesus.

    Peter must be petrified with fear and confusion…and in the midst, three denials.

    After the third denial…

    “At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter went out and cried and cried and cried.” Luke 22:60-62

    I love that line, “Just then, Jesus turned and looked at Peter.” I can only imagine how utterly heartbroken, shocked and devastated Peter was by his own actions. Jesus knew he would be.

    Even in the midst of Jesus’ own ordeal, He was so concerned for Peter that He was paying attention to the rooster’s crow and He looked for Peter.

    Some could interpret the look as a look of anger or as an “I told you so”, but with the full wisdom of scripture we know that God’s character is grace and mercy, not revenge. He never delights in revenge or destruction (Ezekiel 18: 30-32).

    I believe that Jesus looked at Peter in that moment with such love and concern just as we might look at a loved one with empathy when we know their heart is breaking.

    We know that after Jesus paid for our sins by death on the cross, He was raised to new life and interacted with His disciples many times. One of those sweetest interactions comes when Jesus finds Peter, cooks him breakfast on the sea shore, and reinstates him. (See John 21)

    Jesus’ actions show the kindness, mercy and forgiveness of God; and the care and deep love Jesus has for his friends.

    “It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!” Romans 8:11

    This Easter, no matter how much you think you’ve blown it, I pray that you experience the resurrection, restoration and grace-filled power that only comes through Jesus. He forgives you and He’s waiting to cook you breakfast.

    Happy Resurrection Day!

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  10. Happy Wives Club {Review + Giveaway}

    March 28, 2014 by admin

    This week I’m over at Start Marriage Right reviewing the New York Times bestselling book Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver. There is also an opportunity to win a copy of the book! I hope you’ll join me over there today.

    Here is an excerpt from my article:

    I feel incredibly blessed and humbled to be happily married.

    However, I know that many people do not share my experience of joy in marriage. As I shared in Five Marriage Lessons From a Newlywed, one of the main messages about marriage that I heard from so many people before I got married was one of negativity; and that marriage is mostly hard work.

    That has not been my personal experience nor the experience of many of my friends, so I was thrilled to discover Fawn Weaver and her website Happy Wives Club. Fawn recently released a New York Times bestselling book of the same name: Happy Wives Club.

    Fawn traveled around the world, to 12 countries on six continents, to see if she could discover the secrets to a happy marriage. During her travels Fawn interviewed couples who have been happily married for 25+ years and out of these interviews she penned her book that is filled with interesting stories about each couple’s life and the wisdom they have learned in their marriages.

    CLICK HERE to keep reading this article.

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