Ablaze Church Post for August 31 2009

There is an emergency team meeting tonight, with several key members of our mission team. I will not be posting an Ablaze post this week. There are many things to be worked through, and prayed over. Please keep our Mission Start in your prayers while we try to discern the voice of God from our own.




What a Year it has been

Dear Heavens, I turned 44 this week and I still haven’t won an academy award. Not that I haven’t tried. Being a redhead and all – you’d think I would have. Sadly no academy’s for me. And I guess that’s a good thing really.

My life is not what I would have expected 20 years ago. I’m not an award winning novelist, or actress, or circus clown (Mom breathes a silent prayer of relief over that one.) for that matter I don’t have a career to speak of at all like I once thought I would. I’m a married mother of two really neat teenagers and my life consists of helping out with our Mission Start, teaching Sunday School for Women, going to my son’s soccer games, planting my gardens, cooking meals, cleaning my house, loving my husband and becoming a stand up comic. I think that is a good life.

I like to take an inventory every year on my birthday. Just an honest look and where I’ve been and where I want to be. I set new goals and strive for them each year.  Last year my goals included learning new things, being more brave, and walking closer with God.

Did you know that if you set the goal of “not being so afraid” it doesn’t mean the fear goes away, it means you get to feel the fear and do it anyway?

So what big scary things did I get to do this year? – I didn’t die by the way, which I’m sure you figured out because you are reading this post.

My scary things that turned out to be still scary but didn’t kill me.

  • Drove to the Children’s Medical Hospital in Fort Worth with Dillon for three days to find answers. – we did and he’s seizure free today.
  • Drove to Nashville with other Turbo Sisters to be there at Chonda Pierce’s new video taping.
  • Flew to Nashville to be in Ken Davis’s Professional Communicator’s Summit. — I shook to my bones, but did it anyway.
  • Drove to Nashville (Yes, I’m in love with Nashville this year) for the Christian Comedy Association Conference, found “home” and joined the association.
  • Performed a LIVE three minute comedy set in front of Kenn Kington, Nazareth, Thor Ramsey, Bone Hampton, LeLand and a bunch of other profession Christian comics – okay so I almost wet myself over that, but hey, I did it! And I made them laugh. Not bad.
  • Drove to Nashville with Jeff to spend 48 hours at the Cove with Randy and Chris Elrod for some retreat and mentoring time.
  • Did another live stand up set – this one about seven minutes at the Ablaze Fall Festival and did well enough that people told me I’ve found my right path. 😉 and I was nervous, but not scared.

While looking for God in the midst of fear, I found his path for me. Interesting. He picked the one thing that would seem to scare me most, being myself in front of other people.

Things I don’t do well

  • Taking care of myself.
  • Managing my time.
  • Speaking up without acting out – I still have my temper when I’m tired.

So I have some new goals for this coming year.

  1. Improve this new path by taking one new class, Dynamic Communicator’s Workshop, with Jeff.
  2. Walking two miles a day with my boarder collie Rocky. I tried to do three, but my ankle won’t tolerate it.
  3. Call my mom more than once every other month. I’m really bad at keeping in touch with her.
  4. Take some healthy cooking classes from Whole Foods.
  5. Learn how to say no to the things that get in the way of what God wants me to say yes to.

Simple stuff really. But worthy of noting. I’m a caretaker who needs to learn how to take better care of myself. So that is what I plan on focusing on this year. I want to celebrate more birthdays and set more goals for my life.

Do you set goals every year? Would you share on with me?

Ablaze Church LCMS Keeps on Ticking

“Pastor, I don’t feel comfortable with all of these new people coming to our church. I mean just look at them. They aren’t like us.” — Real Quote from a real Elder to a real pastor. What was he complaining about; the 300 + new members that joined the church from 1991-1994 ish. My husband and I were part of that group of new members. I’m not sure if that made God laugh, or cry. I do know that He knows the plans he had for them and us, and today God just smiles.

Skaters shred through the school parking lot every Saturday while we have church. They come close enough to hear the music and glance at the people walking in, but that is it. They have bigger things to do with their time on Saturday night than visit our little mission start. They seem more focused on the curls, kicks, flips, and stops they are trying to perfect than they are us.

They are pretty rough around the edges, these skater boys. They aren’t like us. Or are they? Our door is open, they hear the music as they skate and shred and whatever else they call what they are doing. Sometimes I could swear they slow down just a little with each pass. I could be wrong though.

Funny thing about our little mission start who, worships 50-60 people a week, we have teenagers. Lots of teenagers. While the adults appear invisible to these skaters, the teen girls don’t. So they decide to pay a visit this week.

I’d like to say, they came to worship. But they didn’t. They came to cut up and tease one of the girls they knew from school. All three boys went to teens church and proved to be a challenge for our teachers.

During our prayers in the main hall, separate fro the teens, pastor prayed for those boys. He told God that while we think we know why they came in (girls), we pray that God would call out to them, be real for them and make them his.

When church ended, one of the skater boys left. The other two? They sought out pastor – apologized for the disruption and asked about Jesus.

“What do we need to do to be saved?”

They asked that!

Hmmm.. Kinda reminds me of another group of “not like us” people. The ones the Pharisees didn’t like. The ones who followed Christ in all their humanity and brokenness. They asked the same question of their own Rabbi, Christ. And he answered, “Believe in the one whom God has sent.”

Pastor and those boys sat down on the steps of our make shift alter, the cafeteria stage and prayed.

That’s why we are there!

Forget the politics. Forget about the present ELCA vs LCMS drama. Forget everything. But don’t forget those boys. God didn’t.


Exceeding Your Expectations, Interview with Linda Olson

linda olsonWe are thrilled to have Linda Olson, inspirational speaker, author, and leadership coach with us today. Please find a comfortable seat as you join our visit with Linda introducing her new book, Exceeding your Expectations.

LINDA: Thank you! I’m delighted to be with you and your readers today to share about a topic that is close to my heart and something we all need to hear in light of today’s economy.

Linda, you have a strong leadership background. You have served for more than thirty-five years both in Canada and the United States as Dean of Women, Marriage & Family Therapist, Women’s Ministry Director and a Creative Memories Director. Recently you founded a program called, Made for Something More. Share with us how that came about?

LINDA: I served as Women’s Ministry Director at three churches over a fourteen year period. As I was invited on full time staff to entrepreneur a women’s program with over 5,000 attendees, I knew this was more than a position, it was a calling. During that time I searched for resources to develop my leaders and came up empty-handed. It was at that time God laid on my heart to begin developing a program for Christian Women in Leadership. In the program, Made for Something More, I was developing a five-part series with books, teleseminars, DVD’s and other resources. When it came down to getting my first book published, God laid on my heart a sixth book, Exceeding your Expectations.

Why are you passionate about the message in this book?

LINDA: Like many people today, I didn’t have any dreams or expectations. Growing up on the farm in mid-west Canada, life was more about surviving than it was thriving. It seemed the biggest expectation was to bring in a big enough crop or sell enough cattle to pay the bills and cover basic living expenses. I learned to survive rather than thrive.

When did that change for you?

LINDA: I entered Bible College as a shy, inhibited teenager seeking God’s direction for my life. It was there that I met students with dreams and aspirations. They were enjoying life and had a purpose. It triggered something in me that made me realize I was made for so much more. During those three years at a dormitory college my life blossomed.

So, how did that change things?

LINDA: I knew God had a special purpose for my life. I had gained confidence, self-esteem and many leadership skills. Big doors began to open. At 21 years of age I was invited to become Dean of Women at Trinity Western University on the west coast of Canada. It was the beginning of a 35-year leadership journey where God has exceeded my expectations beyond my wildest dreams.

We are all affected by our present economy in one way or another. Besides a job and enough money to hang on to our home what are people looking for and how can we help them?

LINDA: Besides the tangible things people are looking for encouragement, hope, peace, health, and security. When the woman at the well said to Jesus, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep”, she was looking to the well for practical answers. It’s the same thing we do when we look to our circumstances hoping for changes that will transform our life. The answers are not in the well nor are they in our circumstances. They are in the Almighty. We need to look to Him and trust Him to fulfill the many promises He has given us.

What was the turning point for the woman at the well?

LINDA: The turning point occurred when Jesus brought her face to face with her fear. He said, “Go call your husband and come back.” Jesus knew her struggle with relationships, so why would He ask her to call her husband? He needed to know if she was willing to confess her situation and take responsibility. She needed to face her fear and know she could move beyond it.

How can we learn to exceed our expectations?

LINDA: Before Jesus exceeded this woman’s expectation with living water she had to:

  1. Recognize her need for change
  2. Be willing to take responsibility for herself (take down emotional barriers)
  3. Commit herself to Him (believe in Who He was and What He had to offer)

It isn’t any different for us. We need to be open to change (recognize our need for change), be willing to take responsibility and commit our day and our situation to Him (and leave it in His hands). When we do that He will exceed our expectations.

Where do we often fall short?

LINDA: It’s not in having an expectation we go wrong, but rather in hanging on to our expectations. We want something to happen at a particular time and we hang on like it is our right. The other area where we often fall short is NOT being willing to wait silently. If we are willing to submit our expectations to God every morning and wait on Him, He will far exceed them. “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my (personal responsibility) expectation (hope) is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense.” Psalm 62:5,6

What resources do you have available for us?

LINDA: There are several things available that you can find on my website which is www.madeforsomethingmore.com.

  • Coordinating Journal, Goliath Challenge – My gift to you.
  • My new book & DVD, Exceeding Your Expectations
  • Capturing your Vision – is a program where I will work with a leadership team and teach them to Capture their vision, Explode their influence and Bring $ back to their organization. As part of that program I speak to their group equipping and empowering women to recognize their value and their potential.
  • Teleseminar Series – for anyone who wants to go deeper. This series consists of 6 teleseminars as well as time for leaders to ask their personal questions.

Exceeding Your Expectations – Linda Olson

lindaolson_exceedingyourexpectationsExceeding Your Expectations: Learning the Ten Leadership Principles that Guarantee Results by Linda Olson (Guardian Books)

Is it possible that no matter how many times you’ve failed at getting ahead, that the secret to finally breaking through could be … Easy?

The Answer is Yes…No matter how many times you have tried to get ahead and failed, even if you have had little breakthroughs and then were set back again – you can learn to rise above your circumstances and enjoy the life you deserve.

Linda Olson is best known for her work in equipping and empowering women. She knows how discouraging in can be to work hard at getting a breakthrough only to be set back one more time. She also knows that getting the big breakthrough is possible regardless of how many setbacks, how many people tell her to give up, or discourage her from moving ahead. Linda has learned to exceed her expectations wherever she goes.

Exceeding Your Expectations offers timeless principles in an easy to follow format where readers can journal their insights about the material. Applying the principles will work in any situation, for any generation, and are guaranteed for a lifetime.

Anyone reading the book will benefit by:
1. learning the secret to connecting with others wherever you go
2. recognizing the power available through relationships
3. following the actions steps that position you to exceed your expectations

Exceeding Your Expectations, a must-read in this economy, teaching how to rise above your present circumstances and learn to exceed your expectations.

About the Author

lindaolsonLinda’s infectious storytelling ability, along with her passion for giving to others, captivates audiences wherever she goes. Linda believes in living life and living it to the fullest.

From a farm in Midwest Canada to the desert in Southern California, Linda has embraced every part of her journey. She has learned strong work ethics, the power of perseverance, and finds her strength through her personal faith in God. Her leadership journey began at the age of twenty-one and has included everything from teaching troubled teens to surviving on an island. She has enjoyed the college life as Dean of Women, counseling men, women, and families in her private therapy practice, empowering women through service in Women’s Ministry, to inspiring women to preserve their photos and memories through Creative Memories. She has also worked as a counselor and program coordinator at a Domestic Violence Shelter, as a social worker with Visiting Nurses in the Hospice department, and has volunteered many years in children’s and women’s ministry at her church. Linda has encouraged people from all walks of life, equipping them to fulfill their innermost dreams.

Her formal education includes a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy, and one in Christian Education. She’s a Certified Life Coach, a member of Toastmaster’s, and has over thirty-five years experience as an entrepreneur and leader–all of which have equipped her to train and inspire leaders to become who they were meant to be. Linda has empowered audiences throughout the United States and Canada since 1973 with her inspirational stories, leadership principles, vulnerability, and call for action.

Linda has a special heart for non profit organizations. She loves to “give back” to the organizations whether it’s a church group or a fundraiser in the community. She speaks to both Christian and secular audiences-both men’s and women’s groups-on anything from inspiration and motivation to developing Christian women in leadership. Her husband, Rick, a counselor, Life Coach, and speaker, often joins her at her events. Together they have raised two beautiful daughters, and make their home in Palmale, CA

The New Zoo in Green Bay Wisconsin

aug 16 213Our family usually takes two summer vacations every year; one just for fun and one focused on family and friends. Our just for fun trips are usually some place close by to Tulsa, like Branson or Oklahoma City and only last about two or three days. Our family trips take us home to Chicago or New York or even Tampa to visit Jeff’s folks an these trips usually last 1 – 2 weeks. 

This year, we cut our vacations down to one and visited long time friends in Shawano Wisconsin. Jeff has known Todd and Laura since High School. They were even in our wedding.  Todd and Laura are in their early 40’s and have three year old twins; one boy and one girl. Wow are they busy.

While we were visiting – all of us went to this really cute little Zoo in Green Bay called, The New Zoo. (Click Here for more information) I’m not sure how new it is, but it is just the right size for little ones and had plenty for the bigger kids (my boys ages 16 and 18) to enjoy as well, including feeding the Giraffe’s.

Turns out the animals are all photograph hounds an we were able to bring back some wonderful photos.


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Isn't he beautiful?
Isn't he beautiful?


We had fun on Todd and Laura’s farm. Hanging out with old friends, boating and fishing on Lake Shawano and just being together as a family. Totally worth the 15 hour car drive.

Did the economy effect anyone else? How did you spend your summer vacation?

Ablaze Church Block Party

kids and waterWell, it’s official – our second annual block party / neighborhood festival was a huge hit in the neighborhood. We had great entertainment and worship from Halo Jordan, Rhema’s Axis Band, Zion’s Fire, as well as Christian Comedians Michele VanDusen and myself.  Yes, I do stand up comedy and no that isn’t anything new, I’ve been making people laugh on accident for years. Now I just do it on purpose. If you don’t believe me just ask my pastor about the time I informed him in Sunday school that I hated the Rachel in the OT (Jacob’s Wife).I thought the fact that God gave Christ through Leah shows that God does indeed have taste and that he gave men beautiful women for no other reason than to make complete fools out of them.

Yeah, that went well. I have the ability to make my husband hide under tables and my pastor to hang his head and blush. What can I say, it’s a gift. Being part of CCA is a huge honor and privledge. It is an opportunity to share the gospel through humor and Grace and make people laugh in the process. I could not be more humbled by getting to be a part of it.

Jennifer Weiser did a great job coordinating everything and the only sad part of the day was she had two performers pull no shows. She did however have a lot of help the day of and big thanks go out to everyone who participated in making the day enjoyable for the community.

Pictures from the day.



Dale Brookshire Brought out his chuckwagon for great food.
Dale Brookshire Brought out his chuckwagon for great food.


Pastor Dreier delivering his message
Pastor Dreier delivering his message


Our volunteers and performers
Our volunteers and performers


The day was long for everyone who was there by 9 am setting up. Even so, tired or not – chearful faces and chearful hearts greeted everyone who cae. Thank you’s go out to everyone who helped.

Social Networking (But that’s NOT what I meant!)

home alone pic

Imagine if you will, posting a humor piece that is poorly received. So poorly received in fact that one woman actually posts something along the lines of calling you “an overstuffed pig who plays with puppets and can’t keep a day job.” How eager will you be in responding? Will you be nice enough to say “Give me three days to think about my response and I’ll get back to you?”

My head line should read “Smart man meets stupid redhead with a hot temper and behaves much better than she does.” I’ll be lucky if I hear from him in the next century much less in three days.

For better or for worse, the world wide web makes everything more readily accessible than ever before. That applies to great things, and not so great things. The web makes it easy for all of us to sit behind a screen and communicate things to a computer forgetting we’re talking to a person.

Every day I read words that I know the person would not use face to face. Some days I respond with words I’d never use in person. Some days I’m brutally harsh. The downside with writing, is tone cannot be conveyed. It takes a very talented writer to properly convey humor. And it takes self restraint to not ask the person where their head was when they wrote that story when the humor fails to be conveyed. While my self restraint is improving, I still have a lot of work to do. As is the case with a very talented comic whom I called a stuffed pig yesterday. He wrote (what I hope) is a humor piece only I didn’t get it.

I didn’t see the humor. I saw (read) a very degrading post against women – and it lit a fire in me that ensured 1 – he’ll never hire me to open for him and 2. I was not so sure I wanted to ever buy tickets to his show anymore. I should have sat on my “instinct” and said nothing. Really.

I allowed my emotions to rule my actions – I’m usually better than that.  I should have read it, remembered the guidelines for commenting (keep your comments productive or move on) and either moved on or simply stated “Wow, I don’t get this, would you please expound?”  Turns out it was a humor piece – but not having a personal relationship with said comic – I did not know that. I should not have called him anything.  That not the way to communicate “I don’t understand this.” Chances are, he’ll never speak to me again – and I deserve that.

In today’s world we can blog, twitter, digg, and stumble our way to fame (for better and for worse) and mediocrity in a heart beat. There is no such thing as a “private” email, e-zine, or blog post. We forget that as writers. Sometimes, self indulgent creatures that we are, we forget that while *I* know what I meant by this or that post, my reader may not. I need to choose my words carefully.

There are wonderful writers out there – and I do not pretend to be one of them. There are great blogs to read and to learn from – most of them are on my blog roll.

My whole point here is I forgot I was responding to a person – and that is never cool

Blogs and social networking are about relationships and two way communication. And with the “safety” of a computer screen, we sometimes write blogs we’d never speak out loud and sometimes we comment or email responses using words we’d (hopefully) never say otherwise.

Has that ever happened to you?