1. Pursuing Your Passions

    November 14, 2014 by admin

    Last month I had the honor of speaking at a women’s conference where I spoke about pursuing your passions.

    I spoke about learning to identify and pursue your passions, using the gifts God has given you, and I shared about my journey of pursuing my passion for writing.

    A big part of my journey has been learning to step through fear, be brave and walk by faith into the fullness of life and purpose that Jesus brings. After all, if you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat!

    Below are both parts of my talk. I hope that my story will encourage you to discover your passion and learn how to move forward in it!

    (If you want a quick dose of encouragement to step through fear and take faith-filled risks, watch the first 12 minutes of Part 1!)

    Pursuing Your Passions-Part 1
    (San Diego Women’s Advance)

    Pursuing Your Passions-Part 2
    (San Diego Women’s Advance)

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  2. Do You Come to Church to Worship?

    October 27, 2014 by admin


    “Do you come to church to worship, or do you come worshiping to church?”

    Years ago I heard someone share that quote and I have always remembered it.

    The deeper meaning within it asks if you simply spend an hour or two at a worship gathering on Sunday and then ignore God the rest of the week or if you are living a life of daily connecting with God.

    If it is the latter, then you come “worshiping to church” because it’s about a daily lifestyle rather than a short weekly event.

    I thought about the idea behind that question a lot after an overseas trip earlier this is year. In my daily life I do connect with God in a variety of ways that include talking with Him and praying throughout the day, telling Him what I’m thankful for, singing worship songs, reading the Bible, praying for other people, and serving others.

    But my trip afforded me so many extra hours of “down time” to thoughtfully connect with God.

    Listening to hours and hours of worship music and sermons on my iPod while on planes and trains; leaning on Him to sustain my energy levels in the midst of busy travel days; connecting with lots of other followers of Jesus at a conference.

    After I returned home and went to church I noticed how much more ready and “primed” I was to jump right into worshiping God, encouraging others, praying for friends with big faith.

    I came “worshiping to church” because I had been worshiping so much all day each day throughout the trip that it was easier to connect with God, sense His presence and serve at the church gathering.

    So, do you regularly come to church to worship, or do you come worshiping to church?

    The point isn’t to be legalistic about it but rather to cultivate a relationship with God that is thriving in daily communion.

    That will probably look different for everyone and may look different for you during various seasons of life. But God created us for relationship, with Himself and others.

    He enjoys us and wants us to enjoy Him and be in continual communion and communication with Him.

    He longs for us to experience the abundant life He came to offer each one of us.

    In John 10:10 Jesus says: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NASB)

    The “they” in this passage is you and me. The word “life” comes from the Greek word zoë, meaning “life, both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence”.

    The Greek word for “abundantly” is perissós, meaning “more, greater, excessive, abundant, exceedingly, vehemently.” Also, “all-around excess, beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation.”

    That’s the kind of life Jesus offers us and wants us to experience with Him, beginning now and going into eternity!

    And just a point of clarification…we are the church; you and I as followers of Jesus are the church. In the New Testament “the church” refers to the followers of Jesus rather than a building or a specific service. So, really, we don’t “go to church”.

    We are the church and we gather together to worship God. Furthermore, each one of us, everyday, everywhere has the opportunity to bring the love and light of Jesus to each person we interact with.

    So…what two things can you do this week to begin connecting more with God on a daily basis?

    If you’d like to connect more but aren’t sure how to, take a few minutes to read Three Practical Ways to Remain in Christ.

    This week join me in being more intentional about connecting with Jesus, the source of life, and experience more and more that abundant life He offers us. And then share it with others!

     

     

     

     

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  3. Now is the Time to Be Brave

    October 9, 2014 by admin

    When I think back over the last 15 years, there have been so, so many times that God has come through for me in my weakness. At this point, it’s almost impossible to doubt that He will come through for me…because He always has.

    But I would have never known that kind of faith, assurance, trust and strength in Christ if I hadn’t been weak.

    Especially in America where I live, there is a great importance put on doing things in your own power and strength. Whatever you do don’t ever look weak or admit a weakness, for goodness’ sake!

    And yet, when we are weak, Christ’s power comes through so strong!

    Paul, a hero of the faith who wrote a majority of the New Testament, wasn’t afraid to admit his weakness. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 he wrote, “Each time (God) said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (NLT)

    Weakness is actually a good thing because it’s God’s power that works through you. You know you can’t take the credit for it!

    That doesn’t mean that we should view ourselves as a victim or be lazy or feel sorry for ourselves. And it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be intentional about working through issues and being strengthened in what Jesus has done for us. We should!

    But it does mean that I am happy to lean on God’s strength to supply all my needs, especially in those areas where I often feel weak.

    For example, in my physical limitations dealing with many years of chronic health problems; or when I battled through a prolonged period of  intense fear and anxiety; or when I feel ‘in over my head’ with work and ministry opportunities…I lean on God and He always shows up with His strength. Always.

    It’s what He does.

    In myself, I am often weak. In Christ, I am strong and lean into His “limitless strength” (See Psalm 147). Limitless means “without end, limit, or boundary”. That is the kind of strength God has and that’s what He offers to us.

    I don’t know about you, but that is the strength I want to rely upon.

    King David, who is described as a man after God’s heart, knew about that limitless strength and continually relied upon God to pour out strength in his weakness, trials and vulnerabilities. David even said to God, “O my Strength, I will watch for You, for You, O God, are my fortress. My God in His steadfast love will meet me…” Psalm 59:9-10 (ESV)

    David knew that God was his strength, and that God would meet him with love and protection.

    This morning I felt like God gave me this word of encouragement for us:

    “Now is the time for boldness. Now is the time to live out our part in the story of Christ; to be brave and walk into what He’s created and called us to do, even if our heart is pounding and our legs are shaking. It’s time to take ground, to advance, to walk the talk, to not shrink back. The time is now!”

    When I see other people being brave, it gives me more courage to be brave. And in turn, others will be encouraged when they see me (and you!) being brave.

    Now is the time to follow God and to be all that He has created you to be. Don’t shrink back. Don’t give up. God’s grace is sufficient for you. Rest in His faithfulness and strength even when you feel entirely weak.

    What do you need to be brave in today? Where do you need to take a risk, a leap of faith?

    Join me in taking that step today. Because now is the time to be brave, knowing that God’s strength will meet us and carry us forward.

    “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

     

     

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  4. Overcoming Fear of Commitment

    September 23, 2014 by admin

    Recently the dating website Christian Mingle asked me to become a contributor to their sister site Believe.com, providing articles and videos about healthy relationships. I want to share with you the first video I made for them, where I share my personal story of overcoming fear of commitment in a relationship.

    In it I talk about ways to determine if the fear you’re feeling is due to a deeper issue or if it’s simply the normal “what ifs” most people think about when making a big decision.

    While this has a relationship theme to it, the main ideas are applicable to many areas of life where you need to make a commitment.

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  5. 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!

    What people are saying about Ten Marriage Lessons From a Semi-Newlywed

    “Rayni’s straight shooting no-nonsense approach kept me hooked from the very first paragraph. I am beyond the semi-newlywed years and I learned a truck load that I am taking to heart and applying as we speak.” -Shelley

    “I’ve been married for over 21 years and was challenged to be a better wife to my husband while reading this book! The wisdom that Rayni shares is timeless and relevant if you’re an actual newlywed or one who’s been married for much longer. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a strong marriage relationship!” -Heather

    “Each concise lesson has a nugget from the Holy Spirit to apply in every relationship. This book is saturated with truths about love, giving, forgiveness, and honor. This book is not about just facts, it is about freedom! It gives us tools for choosing to act and walk out love as God would have it!” -Kiersten

    “I love this book! Rayni offers practical, doable advice that will empower and give hope to any marriage. She has thought through many issues and gives sound wisdom to anyone who is serious about having a successful marriage.” -John

    “Solid advice, humor, and practical applications made this book an easy, delightful read. Although I’ve been married for almost 30 years I found many of Rayni’s lessons applicable to my marriage – and I was deeply encouraged by her wise and godly advice.” -Paula

    “Rayni provides thoughtful applications that are both doable and relevant. As a newlywed myself, I appreciate the recommendations this book provides.” -Jennifer

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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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