Monthly Archives: March 2012

4 Things I Learned from Going DOWN the Sand Dunes


I may never own/drive a red car. But I can boast that I've sand boarded with a RED sled. Isn't it just humming with life?

March of 2011 I took a trip of a lifetime to visit a friend, Trish, in New Zealand. She took me all over the North Island. One thing we did was take a bus tour up to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea butt chests.

Along the way we  . . .

  • Attended a haka, Maori dance. Our busload of tourists was treated to this small group of people doing a haka. At the end we all were invited to make faces. We were either welcoming the dignitaries in our group or scaring away our enemies. Who knew that bulging your eyes and sticking out your tongue had that kind of power?
  • Saw ancient Kauri wood carvings at Ancient Kauri Kingdom. This shop had plenty of food and gift offerings. We even walked up and down a gigantic Kauri tree stump that was carved into stairs connecting the 1st and 2nd floors. The photos at this post are some of the wood carvings
  • Drove on the beach highway known as the 90-Mile Beach. Just as the Bus driver/Tour guide was telling us this was a fairly safe drive unless it is raining, the rain started coming down.
  • Sampled food. We ate a packed lunch on one of the countless gorgeous beaches that New Zealand possesses.  Of course cups of tea from Thermoses were passed around. A stop at a small shop for an ice cream cone was mandatory and appreciated.
  • Sand Duned DOWN huge dunes which was a first time event for me. One of the highlight events was sand boarding down the dunes at the Te Paki quicksand stream. I am not keen on heights, fast speed, or difficult hiking that involves three steps up and one step back.

But I did it and I learned 4 things about going DOWN the dunes.

You control the speed of your life by controlling how much you do each day. Make sure you even schedule in times of doing "nothing."

ONE. You control the speed. You want to go fast? Keep your legs and feet up. You will z-i-p down those dunes fast! Are you a scaredy-cat like me? Then you keep your feet down and watch OUT for that spray of sand that is sure to spurt right into your open, screaming mouth (all the way down)!

Life is like this too. You can control the speed. Mostly my life (unlike my sledding) goes way too fast. This is because I am not cautious about what I add to the calendar. I add regularly occurring (good) things, but don’t take away anything. So I end up zipping from one event to the next, screaming (inside) because of the insane pace I keep.

Life is an area where I want and need to control the pace better. Two books have helped me on this are: Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, And Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson and Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner. Time to read them again and practice the advice.

Besides taking things OUT of my life, I need to thoughtfully and prayerfully add things to my life. Just because it is a good thing, doesn’t mean it is best for me to do.

Finally, the speed of my life is best moderated when I have ample time in prayer and Bible study. These twin acts help me to hear and obey the will of God for my life.

Related Posts . . .


Friends who offer encouragement through words, listening, hugs, and other actions help us make it through those long treks.

TWO. You can make the l-o-n-g trek with breaks, a friend, and encouragement. I don’t know how tall that sand dune was, but it was TALL.

3 steps up and 1 back meant that we walked 3 times the length. Right? Half way up I was panting (didn’t think to use my inhaler before going UP) and weak knee-ed. Not just me either.

Bunches of folks were taking a break. Even my friend Trish.

I stopped and looked down – we came a fair distance. I looked UP and saw we had a LONG way to go still.

After Trish and I rested, we decided to go for it. I was nervous because the bus driver only gave us 15 minutes and we were gone at least 10 minutes already.

That break with an encouraging friend is what I needed. Because of both, I was able to make it to the top.

Life sometimes feels like an uphill trek with more steps backwards than forward. Some days, some weeks, some seasons feel very l-o-n-g. That is when I/we need help from a friend who encourages us with words and actions.

At these tiring times in life, we need to make sure that we take breaks, that we have at least one encouraging friend, that we practice margin, and that we control the speed of life well.

Related Posts . . . 


Why is it that new adventures often make me fearful especially the older I get? I don't care that fear keeps me off roller coasters. But I do care that it keeps me from pursuing worthwhile things.

THREE. The ride was exhilarating and I am proud of myself for facing a fear. Looking up that TALL hill I knew that I’d have to face my fear of heights and speed coming D-O-W-N the dunes.

I was also afraid that I’d crash and hurt myself. I don’t care for pain or broken bones. But I did face that fear, step-by-step. I didn’t let myself concentrate on what “could” happen. I concentrated on the journey and my friend. Therefore I was able to make it to the top.

I sat down and whoosh I was gone.

Even though I screamed the whole way down, I discovered I LIKED the ride. The speed was exhilarating, although I didn’t care for the sand in the teeth. And I was so proud of myself. If we had time, I would have gone up again. Or so I like to think. 🙂

Sometimes life throws fearful situations my way. It is easy to let fear control my actions. But when I know this action is what I should be doing, it helps to conquer the paralyzing sting of fear and move forward.

I like to say to my kiddos, “Don’t let fear make your decision for you.” In this case I didn’t and I was rewarded.

Related Reading . . .


We may not be as unique as this rose, but we are unique. So grab a hold of those once-in-a-lifetime chances. And GO for it!

FOUR. Not many get to do this. It was a cool once-in-a-lifetime experience since I don’t live near New Zealand. Focusing on that and the other above 3 points, helped me to get up that hill and then sled DOWN.

Once on top, I could have forsaken the sled and walked DOWN. But I didn’t. I took the opportunity in front of me.

Life also throws once-in-a-lifetime opportunities our way: A speaking engagement, a new job, starting a family, mastering a subject, going to counselling, a new relationship. All of these have the potential of not working out, of being out of our depth, of causing pain, embarrassment, failure or seeming just too hard to do.

But God has a unique plan for my life and yours. He has given us the tools to tackle these opportunities. Even when there are glitches in the process, we can still learn from these unique challenges.

Let’s make a deal. Let’s choose to tackle the obstacles that stand in our way. Let’s really LIVE our life going after those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Related Posts . . .


RECAP .  .  . 

  • Remember you control the speed. Take the time you need to accomplish this step. Declutter your life so you have the emotional and physical stamina needed. Live a life that you control. One that is set at a reasonable pace.
  • Remember your arsenal of helps: breaks and a friend who encourages. How you travel , with whom and with what kind of people are under your sphere of influence. So choose wisely.

    I haven't read Don Quixote De La Mancha YET. When I do, I want to read it in Spanish.

  • Remember to enjoy the ride and to pat yourself on your back for a job well done. I often forget or neglect to reward myself for a job well done. I will say “Thank you” to others (verbally and with cards), but neglect to tell myself “Thank you.” That’s not right. It is okay and good to do
  • Remember to take on those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Life is an adventure. Take each one as it comes your way.

My next scary (to me) adventurous “sand dune” is checking out and then attending a 2 week Spanish immersion class in Mexico or South America. Just the thought of it brings stampeding elephants to my stomach. But, oh, won’t I benefit sooooo much by doing this?

Your Turn . . .

  1. So what “sand dune” do you need to climb up and then sled DOWN?
  2. What tools will you use to help you make it?
  3. What advice do you have for us fellow “athletes”?
  4. Go ahead and brag. Tell us about your “sand dune” experience.

Related Sand Dune (real ones) Posts . . . 

NOTE: This post is inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. The word is DOWN.


Your Help is Needed on Easter, Sunday Morning


We will have a fruit bowl, various breakfast breads, empanadas, parfaits, coffee, and orange juice. Please sign up to help make CNC’s Easter Breakfast special.

As you know, we are serving breakfast at two times on Sunday morning. Therefore,we are looking for folks to help in one of three shifts. 

1. 7-9am – Set out food and serve at the 1st breakfast.
2. 8:50-11am – Clear away 1st breakfast and serve 2nd breakfast.
3. 10:50-until cleaned up.
Please respond with a comment,  if you are able to help at one of the time slots.
Thanks everyone. Feel free to invite someone to help you at the time slot you choose. This will be a fun time as we work together and serve our church family and guests.

You are Needed to Help CNC Get Ready for Easter


CNC is having 2 breakfast times on Easter morning:8 & 10am. On Saturday, 3-6pm, we will set up the rooms in the Children’s Ministry wing for these breakfasts. Please sign up today to help us get ready!

Here are two  opportunities for helping.

  1. Set up tables on either Friday or Saturday morning (April 6th or 7th). Roberta is in charge of this and is flexible regarding set-up times.
  2. Set up rooms (decorate, put out supplies, etc) or kitchen work (put together parfaits, get the coffee ready, etc) on Saturday, April 7th, 3-6pm.
 Please let me know if you can help in either of these areas. Feel free to invite someone to come along and help. The more help we have, the quicker it will all get done!

Filled Easter Eggs Needed


CNC children (PreK-5th grade) are invited to the Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday, April 8th, at 12:10pm. This is right after the 2nd service.

Please bring filled eggs. Candy or toys are fun. 

The preschoolers will have their hunt in the big playground. The others will hunt in the grassy area behind the church office.

Ways you can help . . .

  • More filled Easter Eggs are needed.
  • Deadline to drop them off is Tuesday, April 3rd (Church office).
  • Volunteers are needed to help hide the eggs during the 2nd service.

Contact Danielle Hatler, if you can help or have any questions: 366-6689,

Can We Set Boundaries and Still be a Loving Person?


Boundaries are like a fence. I am responsible for what’s on my side of the fence. You are responsible for what’s on your side of the fence.

About once a month, in our Wednesday night small group the issue about boundaries is raised.  Many of us struggle about when it is Biblically appropriate to set limits. Sometime in 2012, I hope we can go through the Boundaries material.

For now I will post 9 points from my current reading.

  1. Setting a boundary is more than saying “no” to requests.
  2. Not having boundaries leads to a chaotic life with spiritual and emotional pain.
  3. Some other characteristics of a boundary-less life include . . .
    • Isolation
    • Helplessness
    • Confusion
    • Guilt, and
    • Feeling like life is out-of-control.
  4. When we don’t take ownership of our life, the following actions won’t work . . .
    • Trying harder
    • Being nice out of fear
    • People pleasing
    • Taking responsibility for others’ feelings and problems
  5. We need to know what is our “job” and what isn’t our job (in relating to others).
  6. The following are not part of our job description. Someone’s . . .
    • Chronic loneliness
    • Irresponsibility
    • Unending crisis’
    • Immaturity
    • Guilt ridden message of self-sacrifice
  7. Our inability or reluctance to set boundaries affects others.
  8. There are 4 types of boundaries: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.
  9. Boundaries are Biblical and are seen in God’s character and in His Universe.

Your Turn . . .

  • How would you answer the question in the title?
  • What is the most important thing you’ve learned about boundaries?
  • If you’ve had a problem with boundaries, how did you transition to having godly boundaries?
  • What is a good first step?

Related Posts . . . 

Theological Bucket List


I have been doing well crossing off items on my bucket lists as opposed to a general life to-do list. I think it’s because the bucket lists have been seasonal and have fewer items. I don’t accomplish everything on my list, but I know that won’t happen when I dream up my lists.

So I decided to dream up a Theological Bucket List too. Not everything I want to do is on this list. This is the first layer. After I accomplish a significant number of items on the list, I will re-think and re-dream and see what’s next.

Here is my list . . . 

Books …

  • All books by C.S. Lewis
  • All my books on prayer and write one thing I learned from each
  • Declutter my theology books (especially if I have them on Logos)
  • Go through Case for Christ for Kids
  • Read all “religious” books I own
  • Read or listen to The Hole in the Gospel
  • Write or find a good first study book for kiddos who become Believers

Luci Swindoll

Hear a specific preacher/teacher in person …

  • Henri Nouwen
  • Luci Swindoll
  • NT Wright
  • JI Packer


  • Greek – to read New Testament
  • Hebrew – to read Old Testament
  • Spanish – so I can use in ministry

Memorize Scripture …

Music …
  • Learn 12 Hymns
  • Learn 12 current praise songs
  • Learn to play praise songs on guitar

Spiritual disciplines …

  • Tithes/Special Offerings (Donate a paycheck)
  • Fast and pray on a regular basis (determine what is my “regular basis”)
  • Go  through spiritual disciplines book with a group
  • Organize and be part of a mentorship/discipleship group or pairing (with/for ladies)

Topics to study …

One place I’d like to visit is the Dome of the Rock.

Travel …

  • Extended visit to Israel – do study ahead of time, plan photos
  • Follow the journey of Paul’s travels
  • Rome

 Reflection …    

  • Take a life inventory, journal, pray, and fast. What changes, if any, do I need to make?
  • Take spiritual gift inventory again and journal, pray, and fast. What changes do I need to make, if any, regarding doing His Will about my gifting(s)?
  • What is the “impossible” that God is wanting to do through me?
  • What things are holding me back from fully engaging in the life God has planned for me? (Ie. weight, stuff)

I’d like to help people who are hit by a natural disaster. I want show help in a practical way and let them know that God loves them and is working on their behalf.

Volunteer … 

  • Short-term Missions trip – How can I be a long-term encourager after I get home?
  • Visit/Help Astrid (Asia) or Kelly (Africa)
  • Volunteer after a disaster
  • Volunteer for 3 months overseas

Your Turn . . . What would you put on your theological bucket list?

Related Posts . . . 

I Talk Scripture to Myself


I go through periods of time where I use a dry erase pen to write on my mirrors. It might be a to-do list, quotes, or goals.

But for now, it is Scripture: “So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty,” (Zechariah 4:6)

God’s Spirit is within me.

I need this reminder right now. There are things in my life I have tried to do in my own might and power.

I need this MPS reminder: (not Might nor Power, BUT Spirit).

As a consequence of pondering this verse (which is given to Zerubbabel during a vision about the rebuilding of the Temple), I have been . . .

  • Praying more as a first resort.
  • Asking what God wills in my life, not dictating what I will.
  • Using the divine enablement (tools, motivation, people, and energy) He gives to accomplish His will.
  • Living like the outcome belongs to the Lord.

One commentary states: “Note that these words are directed to Zerubbabel, who has been charged with the leadership in the rebuilding program.

“There is here both encouragement and admonition.

“Zerubbabel need not fear the size or difficulty of the task. God’s supply of power is sufficient for any and every situation.

“But Zerubbabel needs to rely on God rather than personal skill, strength, or ingenuity.

“The word translated “might” is frequently used of armies, wealth, or influence. But God’s work is accomplished by the power of his Spirit.”

Elwell, W. A. (1996, c1989). Evangelical Commentary on the Bible . (electronic ed.) (Zec 4:1). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
NOTE: This is the 1oth photo in my series, A Winter of Self Portraits. When I was brainstorming a list of items for my Winter Bucket List, I came up with the idea of taking 12 self-portraits.