New Beginnings

Today was the first day back to school for most. I know some divisions started over three weeks ago, but just imagine, today, being the first day.  Yesterday, I was in a strange place. Trying to figure out how to say goodbye to summer and hello to school, sports, dance, homework, and the myriad of lists of things to do. I had a sense of confusion, a tad of panic if I went to far out on the calendar, and sadness–time marches on, my babies get older. Between my youngest trying on her outfit and me trying to pretend I was a member of the Starfleet Academy (I was watching Star Trek), we were all trying to cope with “the night before”.


The morning comes and all your prep work plays out. I purposed to wake up early and exercise, and my favorite spot to do so was totally revamped! I showed up after a summer of lazy daisy, opened the door to bright walls painted, floors redone, no hot yoga smells, and smiling faces asking me if I took the challenge! Yes! I’m here to take the challenge! I can’t tell you how this NEW made me change my mindset. A coat of paint, a new floor, decluttering….WOW! What a metaphor.


So, I challenge you my friend.  I know it’s strange getting a year older, and maybe your life is humdrum, or maybe you are in insane chaos, but you can have new beginnings.

I encourage you to take a challenge in one or two areas of your life, join Starfleet Academy, and “make it so number one”.


Your categories are simple–

Spiritual–What are you doing to be mindful, prayerful, and/or connecting with God?

Intellectual–What are you doing to stretch your mind and learn something new, take a risk?

Physical–What are you doing to take care of your temple, or body?

Emotional–What are you doing to care for your emotions? Could you benefit from counseling? Laughing? A meaningful cry with a great friend?

My goal is to go to hot yoga for 3x a week for one month, and to create a habit of going. I need a physical make over. The other categories are grooving for now and some are on overload.  I need balance.

My brain is full, but my bum is wide. You get me.

NEW BEGINNINGS! Take the challenge–I dare you!

The first person to respond to me with their challenge, gets one free session to Bikram Hot Yoga!


Living your dream and taking courageous steps can be a little overwhelming. In our retreat RENEW we learned from our teachers to be filled with the Holy Spirit, renew our purpose, renew our thoughts, words, and actions, and renew our bodies–our temple. Often we hangout in comfort zone land or, even worse, stagnant station, because we fear and criticize. We fear taking a first step because we may look foolish or get negative feedback, and we are quick to judge the steps of others.

Peter walking on the water is a story told often, and our efforts to live our dreams courageously as well as encourage others can be found in this miracle. Chelsea reminded us that our thoughts become actions. Peters thoughts of courage got him out of the boat, and his thoughts of fear, while in the middle of his courageous act, caused him to slip. Now, we all agree, that if Peter had not slipped that story would be a little different. Somehow his humanity helps us.  It is true.  We take a leap of faith, and, we know, some leaps miss the lily pad.

lily pad

That needs to be expected and okay. I want a life filled with leaps, and like Karen shared, the confidence that Jesus will lift me up when I miss the mark, and friends to encourage me in the journey. What am I doing in this thing called life that not only can give a word of encouragement to others, but also stretch myself to consider new possibilities. Unlimited possibilities. The disciples in the boat witnessed Peter’s journey. I want to be courageous enough to step out of the crowd and go for it! It might be as simple as being courageous enough to start taking better care of your health, or, maybe, changing your career. We do not judge a leap by it’s distance or height! A leap is a leap. Leap on my friend!

Your leap just might encourage others to take a leap. When Neil Armstrong took his courageous step on the moon, we were awestruck! Maybe you wont literally walk on the moon in your lifetime, but your courageous steps are noticed by others and “mankind” is changed.


Let’s start a renewal of acknowledging the filling of His Spirit in us to do the impossible, the importance of communion with our Savior through prayer and reading His Word, the caring of our temple and breathing–live in the moment, the determined focus of renewing our purpose and thoughts.

Be refreshed, restored, and renewed….

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly without fear for newer and richer experiences.” Eleanor Roosevelt



In preparation for our WOW retreat this weekend, I had a moving experience listening to a speaker’s video. Leslie can’t be with us, so she created a video of her session for the girls to watch. Her topic is prayer; our theme is RENEW! I was instantly renewed in my prayer life after listening. She was honest about her experiences in developing a prayer life with just enough humor to remind you of our humanity. Prayer is not a lofty pursuit, but a humble, communion with our Father. I committed to wake up and practice some of the principles on prayer she suggested from Priscilla Shirer’s book Fervent.  By the way, GREAT book to read.  I was deeply surprised not only to hear my voice, but also how God spoke to my heart during this sweet time with Him.  Honestly, I wondered, where do I start? After looking through all the church bulletins, pictures, and notes in my Bible, I thought, “Okay, Anna, get focused, and start from the beginning of the Gospels–Matthew, Chapter 1.  I confess, I skipped over the lineage of Christ, but I did remind myself of a few names like Abraham, King David, etc.  My daddy and I were talking the other morning and, at 80 something years old, he pondered why we overthink “the story of Jesus and His love”. We try to dress it up so folks will consider it, but the simple story of Jesus, all by itself, without bells and whistles, can change your heart. Here are my beginnings into my renewal in prayer. Thank you Leslie for your wisdom and passion for prayer.  I can’t wait for the girls to hear your video and be inspired!

We Have A Song to Sing!

We are more than the sum of our parts and Google calendar. My personal and work calendar are filled with activities of adventure, the mundane, and the unexpected. For me, and maybe for you too, there is always a story line weaving its way into my self-imposed and obligated list of things to do. For several weeks, I’ve read devotionals, watched documentaries, received profound quotes from my daughter’s new job presentations, and sat in presentations and meetings from my work that tells the story of  common humanity. For all our differences, we move, work, and play with a common song.  Can you hear the music?


“The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word “entheos” which means the God within. And the happiest, most interesting people are those who have found the secret of maintaining their enthusiasm, that God within.”  Earl Nightingale

What creates  enthusiasm within you? The “God within” will guide you. He provides the necessary tools, wisdom, and passion for one more day. If you’ve lost your enthusiasm, perhaps it’s because you are trying to conjure this up on your own, forgetting that you are filled with the very presence of God. His Holy Spirit is capable of showing  you great and unsearchable things.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

As humans we desire the known, God says there are things you’ve never seen or known, and I am willing to show you–CALL TO ME!

In my current job, every day is new. Some days are filled with empowered enthusiasm, other days I am confused and, well, let’s be honest, like Charlie Brown on a bad day.

Enthusiasm is embracing the “AUGHH!” along with the “WOW!”   “God within” means I may have thoughts and feelings, but the story has to play out. In the ball game of life, you hit home runs and you strike out. Both exist. Go with God!

You can’t be a softy

The story of Velveteen Rabbit reminds us of the journey of life not only within ourselves but in our relationships.  We must allow conflict, misunderstandings, true hurtfulness to exist.  You can’t be a porcelain doll. My every thought becomes how can I create a porcelain appearance, situation, or relationship. I carefully hold it, clean it up, and protect it so that it does not break. The result? Exhaustion, anxiety, and frustration for myself and others. I wonder why they can’t see, and I question my sanity around things that I seem to not be able to change. What if…

What if we could embrace the conflicts with enthusiasm and trade our porcelain life in for a “God within” enthusiasm? I don’t want to be carefully kept. Just to hear those two words together makes me want to yell, “No more!”  I don’t want to carefully keep my children, my marriage, or my journey! I want to embrace, with enthusiasm, the God within and the unsearchable.  I don’t want to play it safe to the point of carefully kept. I’m all for logic, boundaries, and order, but there is a limit. If I worship order to the point that when I “get out-of-order” I’m a failure, then I’ve gone too far indeed! Allow life to push you around a little–take the bruises and the bumps, and continue fighting.

Believe in the capacity of others

Think back to a time that you were in the throes of a learning curve, or totally messed up a situation. Because of your actions, you caused others to work harder, or you totally dropped the ball, so they were left hanging. I’m not recommending we do that often; we do need to hold ourselves and others accountable, but our humanity beckons us to rebuild and transform. When someone takes my mistake and gives me enough grace to be transformed along with honest feedback, then I not only begin to change, but I am motivated to consider new possibilities. Capacity is built.  Grudges, self-loathing, and pity parties don’t exist here. Honest conversations with change and possibilities take sail.

I’ve always been enthralled by childhood cartoons and characters–I love Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, the Pink Panther, and Charlie Brown.  Later in Charlie Brown’s life he meets this red-head girl and falls in love.  His infatuation of her was during a time in my young adult life that I was struggling with red hair. In my day, red heads were different, and different wasn’t always cool in school.  I was happy to see and hear that a little red-haired girl could capture the attention of a boy.

When we believe in the capacity of others and make it a point to speak life, we do great and mighty things for ourselves and others. The little red-haired girl noticed all the wonderful qualities of Charlie Brown that made even Lucy tear up. We all have a Lucy, right? You might be that Lucy!  Take notice in the video the compassion in the little red-haired girl, the reactions of others, and the expression on Charlie Brown’s face.

“That’s not the type of person you are at all….”

In summary, embrace the God within (enthusiasm), stop carrying around your porcelain doll, and free your hands and mind up to build capacity in others and yourself.





A Diamond Anniversary

A diamond anniversary. The diamond is the hardest substance found in nature. The ancient Greeks called the gemstone adamas, using the same word they used for any unbreakable or indestructible substance, or anything unmovable. In time, adamas gave us the word adamant meaning “firmly fixed or decided”. 


When Tom and Louise were married on August 13, 1957, they said their vows. They vowed to remain together until death do us part, through good times and bad, sickness and in health, and in poverty or wealth. On that wedding day, over 60 years ago, they never imagined how their vows would be played out in their God love story, but we are all here today to witness and honor their unbreakable, firmly fixed, and decided marriage commitment.

God’s word tells us to

“Honor marriage above all else…” that

“A man who has found a wife has found a good thing”, and that a

“Woman who has a husband who loves her as Christ loves the church is blessed”.

My dad singing Beauty Lies in the Eye of the Beholder by Ray Price to my mom:

Mom and dad, we want to say, thank you for every time you maybe wanted to leave you stayed. You are adamant about your marriage commitment.  One of our favorite stories is from Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth. She said to the first lady, Barbara Bush, 

 In 2006 Barbara noted that Ruth had once been asked whether, as a Christian, she had ever contemplated divorce. Barbara explained, “Her answer, was, ‘Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.'” Added Barbara, “I could understand that.” (The full article on Ruth from TIME magazine is a great read:,8599,1633197,00.html)

We idolize the Billys and Ruths of the world but please remember this—all marriages struggle but it’s the couple that remains together that truly symbolizes the diamond. 


Ruth and Billy Graham


A diamond is found “in the rough”. It’s the couple who recognizes the potential of this unpolished “rock” and is willing to work hard to create the beauty of the diamond.


The original, raw, state, with work and time, becomes a high-quality jewel–a diamond. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we love a diamond engagement ring.  It’s the promise of things to come if we truly honor our marriage commitment. The Jewish faith believes wholeheartedly that marriage is a covenant in which we learn how to become more like God–Holy. No other institution created by God gives you the platform to grow in forgiveness, long suffering,  mercy, patience, and humility.  Your marriage can be the very representation of God’s glory and love! 

Thank you for honoring God in your marriage and showing us a marriage built on God’s love and grace.

Thank you for endless support, love, and prayers that are the reasons we are here today and can honor you.

(Photos in this slide show are from professional photographer, Chrissy Fukushima:

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Tom and Louise Lloyd your marriage –your unbreakable, diamond marriage is a testimony to all of us. Thank you, and we love you.

Your precious grand-children and great-grandchildren honor you and learn from you.

We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. Psalm 78:4

Ray Price, Beauty Lies in the Eye of the Beholder:

Moving Day

Like the beautiful presence of a tender and courageous father, Jesus wept with Martha and Mary.  He proclaimed,

I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. — John 11:25 NLT

I'm overwhelmed to know that I have a heavenly father who not only holds me when I'm weeping, but He also promises me life in abundance.  He is the perfect life coach.  Just enough empathy to feel heard and held along with a life-changing, locker room, pep talk. Today my middle child moves out and into the world of work, rent, and college. You don't let go without remembering.  Remembering is complicated.

God we honor grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the journey you've brought us through.  Our hope is in our days moving forward in that same grace.

Her empty room is a mixture of weeping and an empty "tomb" in which she soars into her new life–her story with God.  "Oh the Places You Will Go!"

The expression of "they grow up so fast" has come to pass in my life.  Just yesterday we were eating pancakes, reading books, and watching Dragon Tales.

We praise God for His comfort and coaching–a new beginning.  God, today, we give you all we can right where we are in the midst of change and transition. Help us to once and for all lay it down and move into the beauty of your love and promises. Help us to rid ourselves of fear and embrace your tears and joy for us in all we face.

Lauren Daigle- Once And For All


Getting Back to the Basics of Marriage

I purchased a book for my 8th grade daughter, The Good Book for Kids, by Lisa Bergren.  Lisa creatively writes God’s story from Genesis to Revelation using the Bible, discussion, and modern-day stories.  Naturally, the book begins with Genesis, Chapter 1–In the beginning

I pondered the Adam and Eve story.  Mind you, I’ve heard that story many times throughout my life and even had the felt board rendition as a child. Lisa’s first chapter only discussed creation, not the fall of man.  In this concentrated focus, I imagined my marriage as God created. I began to see my husband as created by God, in His image. We all can list the many “views” or “thoughts” we have about our marriage partner.  Yet, when I go back to the garden, I can see through a different lens.

I see a man who, since the beginning of time, longs to work, provide, love, play, and connect. Through these desires, he struggles with brokenness and stumbles. He is guided by God in his God story, and I have been partnered with him in a covenant relationship to journey life. He is broken. I am broken. Together we put pieces together through the power of the Holy Spirit to love and glorify God. There will be no time this side of heaven that your spouse will meet all of your expectations.

So, how do we live?

I believe the answer is in the story of chapter 3 of Genesis (Chapter 2 of my book).

  1. “Did God really say…..”

When you start to rationalize breaking your wedding vows to please your whims or question the sanctity of marriage, then it’s time to take a deep breath and seek God’s love and wisdom. I can lose my religion over the smallest of irritants, so I’m not judging with this statement.  It’s a daily reminder that my marriage is Holy and precious, and, yes, God really did say this…

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all…

2.  The serpent denied the truth. “You will not die…”

When we begin to build walls, contempt, or apathy in our relationship, the marriage slowly “dies”.  Death is evident in our world, and the marriage only works when both are praying and on guard.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

3.  Trusting God versus wondering if He is a killjoy.

Eve thought God was holding out on her–there must be something about this fruit that will make me happy, and God is holding out on me. In our marriage, we can get pretty frustrated or bored. The grass on the other side of the fence still needs mowing, tending to, and, believe me, the lawn you admire or desire has weeds and dog poop, too. From a distance, that other marriage looks so perfect. Turn your eyes to your marriage (or lawn), and get to work. God’s promises are not to burden or to restrict, but to give you freedom and joy. When I look beyond and compare, I’m always frustrated and anxious. When I turn my heart towards home, I can see my reality of goodness, areas to work on, and joy.

“Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, affection, prayer, mutual respect, and a rock-solid commitment between a husband and a wife.” – Dave Willis

If you are married, pray that God will help you go back to the garden and remember that your spouse is made the in the image of God. Remember this is a spiritual lens–God’s love and affection, brokenness, and mercy.  Be on guard to reject faulty thinking and deception about marriage and relationships. Be quick to claim good things for your marriage and to do the work.

If you are single, build on your relationship with God utilizing these concepts and verses.  When you are drawn to God and His love, you are able to pour into the lives of others and make a difference in the world around you. Oh, how the world needs Godly men and women to show the love of Christ!