The Emerge women’s leadership conference starts in a few hours and as we met this morning to prepare for this evening we were thinking of the women from all over the country who will be arriving; some have driven 11 hours to get here.  I am impressed with the Romanian women leaders who have prepared for this weekend and all the hard work they have done.

Yesterday we visited a Roma camp and met some of the women and saw their heart for God.  Many of them are receiving training to sew and embroider goods to sell.  Some of the men have been training to do wood working and we saw their workshop and met a couple of the workers there.  They have a big shortage of water in the camp and rely on the city to provide water that they have to carry to their individual homes.  They have attempted several times to build a well but no water was available.  There are opportunites to share with them supplies for diapers and other paper products for hygiene needs.  Let me know if you would like a chance to donate to this endeavor.  A group arrived a couple of weeks before we got there and held parenting training for some of the families.  It was a short visit and I wish I had more time to get to know some of them.  A couple of them will be able to come to the seminar this weekend which will be wonderful.




I am excited to join with the Emerge Romania team on October 5th.  There will be 14 of us arriving in Budapest, Hungary from all over the world.  We will spend a couple days adjusting to the time change and then travel to Oradea, Romania to encourage women leaders in the local churches there.  Our theme is ‘Women of Influence’ and there will be training, workshops and prayer included in the conference.  I know this will be a time of influence and growth for both the delegates and the Romanian women attending.

I will be teaching a workshop on “Finding Your Voice” and spent a great deal of time preparing for this topic.  I found a verse, “Prepare your work outside, and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards then build your house” Proverbs 24:27.  This is fitting because I spent more time thinking and researching this topic than I did in writing the outline.  I remember a time when I felt I had no voice at all and how I feel so differently today.  Romanian Map679_Budapest-Danube-Day-Cruise-with-Lunch-or-Drinks-960x440My faith has been central to that journey and I am honored to travel across the world and tell women about my experience.

Please pray with me that I would speak truth in the hearts and minds of the Romanian women and that they would be positively impacted.  I feel I can best do this by listening to the Holy Spirit and allowing God to work through me.  So please pray that I would be a good listener.

Emerge is part of Next Level International, an organization that plants and equips churches in Europe and Asia.  You can find them at and there is information about Emerge on that same page.

I will post pictures as I travel so keep tuned.   Inserted is Budapest from the Danube River

Do you ever question the rules set before you?  When you were in high school did you observe the following:  do not chew gum; do not speak without raising your hand, and don’t be late for class?  Some of us are very careful about rules and the need to follow them, never questioning or challenging their veracity.  Others want to observe the rules and then decide if they need to obey them; to think through each rule and its personal cost, bother or importance.  What would happen or would someone notice if I didn’t obey? Then there are those who seem to challenge anything that’s said no matter what it is, to defy the dictate simply because of its existence as a rule.  


You could make the argument that rules are there for our protection and that we don’t need to know all the details, that some other attentive person has considered every possible infraction and determined the need for the existence of this rule.  So therefore we must recognize the rule’s importance and obey it without question.  In the extreme there’s the fear of the rule and the compulsion to follow it no matter what;  don’t rip the label off the pillow you just bought.  


I know all about rules, raised as a strict Catholic I see a nun in a black habit and want to cringe with the fear that maybe I haven’t done everything I should.  Several years ago some of my Catholic friends and I attended “Late Night Catechism”. It  was a mock 1950’s style Catholic school and the actor, an actual nun, had very strict rules like no chewing gum, no talking, sit up straight, etc. I thought it would be fun to chew gum, sit in the front row with my fellow “rebellious classmates” and see what happened.  I wasn’t surprised when the nun got us all to spit out our gum, but I was dumbfounded when I was compelled by her to admit the existence of my large new package of gum and to deposit it in the huge receptacle of offerings from some of the other gum chewers of past classes.  I had decided ahead of time I wasn’t going to admit it’s existence in my purse and give it up, but the “rule” was too compelling.  I confessed and gave it to her sheepishly, apologizing for its existence.   


We all grow up with rules in our families.  Most of them are important boundaries that ensure our success as adults and help us have happy relationships.  Without those rules we would all act out in typical two year old tantrum style and there would be no cooperation or peace in anyone’s life.  We are subtly and sometimes openly shaped and molded into adults that are polite, circumspect and cautious in the way we act and speak.  We all need these rules to be successful and happy. 


Some of the habits we are taught are open and obvious such as avoiding brash anger outbursts or harsh criticism.  But most of the information that we are programmed with is much less obvious.  These are unconscious learned practices that we observe in other family members;  subtle ways of acting or thinking that our parents or others have influenced upon us.  Family rules are often implied and unconscious dictates that we are not aware of. These rules are like billboards flashing across our minds constantly influencing our actions and thinking.  This is why some families easily express their feelings and talk through joys, hurts and concerns while other families have a strict “no talking” rule.  


When personal awareness challenges you to change how you act, feel or think there can be a strong compulsion to avoid it.  You have reasoned it out and you know it’s the right thing to do, but it can feel wrong to you.  The rule learned long ago is too compelling and breaking it has a visceral reaction.  When you learned “no talking” rules then expressing hurt or anger toward another feels disloyal. These rules are constant messages and influence and shape our character and our actions.  We feel guilty in trying to change them.  


It takes time to change these faulty reactions and there are several steps that will help including:

  1. Naming the rule, spelling it out.  There’s something about seeing it in writing that will raise your awareness of the existence of the rule and its faulty thinking.
  2. Reason out why the rule is faulty and commit it to writing. What is its potential for harm?  How has the rule kept you from living a full and healthy life?
  3. Write out what a potentially healthy alternative to the bad rule might be.  It’s helpful to see how a change might impact you and others for the better.
  4. Take small steps to change or impact that previous compulsion.  With a “no talking” rule start telling others in small ways more about how you think or feel.
  5. Realize that it takes time to find a happy medium.  You don’t want to tell everyone all the thoughts you are having, but you might need some trial and error to learn a new level of disclosure; how much and with which person.  
  6. Communicate with others and give and take feedback from those you trust.  We learn healthy living through relationships and in the day to day interactions with those we care about.
  7. Be gentle with yourself and realize that life is messy and there’s no “perfect” solution to many relationship challenges.  


Be a rule breaker and change your life for the better. Remember, the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.



Is personal change possible?  I hear that question all the time in my counseling practice.  Are we able to learn from our experiences, our interactions and information we receive, or do we practice a thought or action briefly, only to go back to our original predetermined behavior and thought patterns?  Are we programmed and wired to be a certain way or can we significantly shape and mold our future?  “That’s just the way I am” is an often heard phrase.  Is that true or can we realistically and effectively overcome the “way we are”?

That’s a complex question that needs to be addressed on several levels.  Sometimes the parts of our lives that we would like to see changed are not entirely up to us.  If you have conflict in an important relationship then the change your seek is not entirely up to you.  You can only change yourself and you can sometimes influence others, but cannot guarantee any change in them. Oftentimes the other person is not willing to  talk about or admit their participation in the conflict.  At that time it can be helpful for you to look at your part in that relationship and consider the parts that you are contributing in the breakdown of communication.  It can be hard to motivate yourself when you feel alone and don’t have the participation of the other party to help with that change.  That brings us to the next part of true change and that is the willingness to make the effort.

If you feel like others around you are more to blame for your problems than you are it is hard to motivate yourself to begin to make the effort to change.  If your focus is on the hurt that you feel from another person then that is often where the energy remains and it can keep you from looking outside of the blaming to look at your own behavior.  “You don’t know how hurt I feel” can be a true statement.  No one else knows how you feel and how the hurts that you feel are caused by someone else.  Sometimes we are so busy trying to find an answer that we don’t grieve over that hurt and it can be healing to express that pain.  The question is when is that not just an expression of that pain but something we embrace and hold until we can’t see anything else?  If that is holding you back then sometimes forgiving the other person can free you to seek the change that you want.  That can be a hard thing to do when the cut runs deep, but with support it can be possible, and ultimately freeing for the forgiver.  But you ask if you are capable of anything but this pain because it has been there so long.

Change is hard when you don’t believe that you can achieve it.  We are interconnected and the support and encouragement of others can help bolster our confidence, but at the heart of any inner change is the need to do the work yourself in making it happen.  Confidence can be a muscle that we exercise in order to achieve our goals.  But where do you start when there are so many things that need to change?  You can often feel paralyzed and make no efforts at all because there are an overwhelming number of problems in your life.

So how do you begin?  Sometimes it can be helpful to work on those things that seem easier to deal with.  Start small and experience success in that area and then you will be more motivated to work on the big stuff.  If something in your life is all encompassing and you are overwhelmed by that issue you will find more success in tackling that one first.  It may be harder, but once you see some progress it will give you the drive and the confidence to keep moving.

Those changes that we seek often do not have a clean, neat beginning and ending point.  Sometimes you will feel you are making success, only to experience defeat a couple of weeks later.  It takes time and ups and downs to see change happen, and to expect that and not get discouraged will help you achieve success.  Have you ever tried to watch a garden grow?  You certainly can’t stare at a plant and see it change.  The same is often true with ourselves and we want to see significant changes happen right now.  But it is the small consistent changes that make a difference over time.  Take the time to make those small moves and I think you will see some things change as you go along.  Instead of viewing your problem as something to “get over” you could see them as part of the journey and your life’s story.  A wise person will hear and increase in learning, and a person of understanding will acquire wise counsel.