The Marathon That Matters

I was born with a heart condition. Not the physical heart that pumps blood and oxygen to my cells, but the heart comprised of mind, emotions, conscience, and will. My heart that craves fairness, desires equality and wants everyone’s little world to be perfect. It’s devastating to learn about someone tormented by bullying, persecuted, cruelly mistreated by friends, or rejected by their families. The condition of my heart says that should never happen. People are not animals that eat their young. People should not be victimized by people. My sense of fairness says as we wish to be treated, so we should treat others. People matter. You matter.

There is more to the story. It’s no secret that people matter, that every person has value, and each of us can make big difference in small ways. Read more – Never doubt that You Matter


Sit Beside Me. Can We Talk?

Once upon a timeand the story has a beginning. Do you ever wish for a place to let down all your defenses, a place where every curtain could be opened, a place where you could say whatever is on your mind, a place to be at peace? Where is that place for you? Where would you begin to pour out the contents of your soul to someone who listens at heart level?

Walking the trail in my neighborhood is a lovely, tranquil escape. It winds four miles alongside the Thornapple river where vegetation grows thickly and little fur creatures can be seen scurrying through trees and into hidden burrows.  For travelers who aren’t quite ready for an eight-mile hike, park benches are strategically placed at points that look out onto more picturesque parts of the river.  park-bench-with-text There is something about a park bench that invites conversation. The empty bench welcomes the weary to rest for a while and drink in the silence of nature and let the calmness of the wind relax their soul. Do you ever want to sit next to someone for awhile and just talk heart to heart?  Here. Sit beside me. Can we talk?

What choice do I have?

Three years ago while at one of my favorite vacation spots, a horse ran over me. That’s all I’m going to say about the place, the event, and the accident that changed my life forever. I made a choice then. I make the same choice every day. I will not let this discourage me, will not allow depression to touch me, and will trust God in the dark for what he promised in the light. I went from healthy to broken in under 60 seconds. When I felt the sting on my head and heard scraping against the pavement, I remember thinking, “This is going to hurt tomorrow.” Then I was in and out of consciousness while emergency first responders saved my life. My head was hurt, my right lung was crushed my shoulder blade was broken and I had a herniated disk in my neck. This was not at all how I envisioned our last weekend of the summer.

I was caught by surprise, but nothing catches God by surprise. I’m one small piece of the puzzle in God’s grand design, but we all know what happens when one tiny piece of a puzzle gets lost. Apparently God isn’t finished with me yet. I’m still living my puzzle piece.

After just eleven days in the hospital, a patient advocate came to my room and said she had some news that might not seem good to me. Mystified, I asked, “What is it?” Apologetically she said she was sorry to tell me I wasn’t going to qualify to go to a rehab facility because I was functioning at a level that disqualified me. If you can just imagine the conversation. Me with a blank stare and her with apprehension. “Are you kidding me? If there is one thing I don’t want to qualify for, it’s rehab.” I still had a chest tube and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, but once I was able to be rid of that, I would be allowed to go home.

Thirteen days after laying on the ground unable to breathe and thinking, “I could die from this,” I was on my way home. The medical attendants and doctors at McLaren Hospital in Petoskey were phenomenal. I was touched one afternoon when an older woman from the volunteer staff came into my room and told the nurse, “I have to meet this Jane Anderson.” I know crazy, right? I was baffled. She had a whole stack of cards in her hand. She said she had been delivering cards to people for over 12 years and never had she delivered as many cards to one person, so she had to meet me. Awwwww what a sweet gesture. Then before I left the hospital several of the nurses each gave me a hand written card. If you don’t think your cards and notes and emails to people matter, change how you think.

A few days after coming home from the hospital a friend emailed me. “Stay strong and positive.  Not sure why I said that to the most positive person around.” Friends I hadn’t seen in months or years stopped over to see me. One of them approached me with a hug and kind compliment, “I’ve noticed you haven’t sounded angry or bitter.” I was caught off guard. How could I be angry or bitter? How can I be anything but positive?

I hope I can explain this so you can apply it to your own circumstances. From the moment I realized what happened I started thanking God for all the things that didn’t happen – and I know I was one breath from death. I had been riding a bike with my then 9 year old granddaughter and her 10 year old friend. When I was told that I was in the hospital and had been trampled by a 2500 pound horse, I’m sure I thanked God a million times that those two precious girls were not harmed. They were 20 feet ahead of me and spared any injury. To this day, three years later I still often stop and thank God that nothing happened to those sweet little girls and that he protected them. Mark 10:16 “He took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” He also protected them.  I get that.

“I’ve noticed you haven’t sounded angry or bitter.” How could I be angry or bitter when I think about what I didn’t get. My scalp was torn away from my skull and required 14 staples to put it back in place. My skull could have cracked, but I didn’t get that. (There are advantages to being hard headed, I guess.) I had a concussion severe enough to do some brain damage that affects my short term memory. It could have been much worse. My eyes were swelled open, but I didn’t lose my sight. God miraculously spared my vision. I didn’t go blind.

When I looked up to see the horse moving forward, I moved to the left as quickly as I could. All my ribs on the right side front and back were crushed. My heart, just a couple inches away, was not touched. My heart could have been smashed, but I didn’t get that. When my ribs got crushed, my right lung was punctured and collapsed. God orchestrated the team of workers who showed up to save my life.

What are the chances that the med station on Mackinaw Island would have a chest tube? How often would a medic be called upon to insert a chest tube, not from the bottom of the lung, which is the normal method, but from the top, down? God sent an ER doctor, who wasn’t supposed to be on the island that day, to stand in for the regular attending doctor. Communicating back and forth with a doctor at the trauma center in Petoskey, it took three attempts but he finally inserted a chest tube to inflate my lung.

My shoulder blade cracked and while it remains the most painful area on my body, it wasn’t shattered beyond repair. I now have this nifty wing on my right side but it healed. I guess God knew I always wanted a badge for something. Maybe not what I was thinking but then as God reminds me His ways are not my ways. My winged shoulder isn’t beautiful but it’s a beautiful reminder of God’s protection and blessing on my life.

That day I was wearing a backpack and every item inside was crushed, bent, or broken. My metal business card case, metal encased notepad, and metal reinforced wallet were bent beyond use, and my glasses inside a hard case were totally crushed. My spinal cord could have been damaged and I could have been unable to walk – but I didn’t get that.

The sandals I was wearing rubbed blisters on my ankles, but my ankles didn’t get broken or sprained. Think of it. I could have gotten broken legs, crushed knees, broken pelvis … I didn’t get that. Choose to be a shining star

I want to tell you the rest of the story.

A friend from our church and his daughter were in the emergency room at McLaren Hospital in Petoskey. Their attending doctor as completely distracted and wouldn’t stop talking on his cell phone. “Wait a minute, doc. Why are you not attending to this young girl whose ankle might be broken? Why are you talking on your cell phone?” How would you feel? I would be irritated too. The doctor apologized and explained I’m trying to help doctors save the life of a woman who got trampled by a horse. That changed everything. In that moment our friend and his daughter prayed for that woman and her life was spared. They had no way of knowing that woman fighting for her life was a family friend. Their whole family left their campgrounds and before heading home came to visit me in the hospital. I didn’t hear this story until sometime later, but even then, I felt the overflow of God’s love and faithfulness.

Do you think prayer is just something you do because it’s expected? Is prayer something you value? Prayer is powerful. Believe God for something big. He holds life in his hands.

Ephesians 3:17, 20 “Let Christ dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

On August 31, 2013 my life changed forever. It caught me by surprise. God knew all about it. Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence.

You know, every day we have a choice. I could complain that life isn’t fair. I could grouch about my circumstances not being what I was hoping for. I could compare myself to someone else and totally lose out on any form of contentment. I could have a pity party all by myself because nobody wants to go to one of those. I could – but I won’t. And you don’t have to either. Philippians 2 it says to not grumble or complain – and we will be like shining stars. That encourages me to put a positive spin on ‘What choice do I have?’ You’ll see that our choices begin with a thought and thoughts become actions. We become what we think about. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.


Less Pain Fewer Pills: Avoid the Dangers of Prescription Opioids and Gain Control over Chronic Pain

This book is ultra-easy to read and what you read, you will understand because it’s not written it doctorese. It’s divided into sections so you can choose which chapters to read now and mark some for later.  The author, Dr. Beth Darnall, has a wealth of knowledge, experience, and wisdom that she shares in hopes that it will help victims of pain understand that there are options. Read a summary of the book, Less Pain Fewer Pills here.

Less Pain - book cover

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Book Summary

JOY – well, there’s that.

Do you ever feel like you never quite accomplish what you set out to do in a day? Not that you feel like a total slug, but there’s just something missing from the pattern so there’s a gap where achievement belongs.

I’m a list maker- and because I’m not unique in that capacity, my guess is that some of you are too. I used to do a few tasks, then sneak them onto my list, just so I could have the satisfaction of crossing them off. Come on – tell my you haven’t ever done that.

Lately though, I want to give up on my lists. I know. Right? How can that even be possible? It has nothing to do with lack of additions to it. Confession time. My lists have lists now and that makes me feel like a failure. My friend, Kim and I started the beginning of the year with weekly pages to keep us motivated and actively checking things off as we completed them.

At first my pages looked like Swiss Cheese, but then began to look like a deep, empty well pit. We need a new beginning and start over with the school year, but before then a new mindset. What does God say about my pattern? Does it look like what he envisioned? Or is it messed up too much with my ideas and not enough of his?

In days like this, I’m glad God doesn’t have mood swings. In fact, no matter how many times I get distracted, accomplish nothing, and do life my own way, God just says, ““I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Every morning (well, almost every morning) I start my day with God. We have a conversation about what I don’t want to do because I want to get it right out there where I know what I’m dealing with. There’s nothing like getting a clear, prayerful understanding. Then I pop in the DVD for exercise, and finally after that, have quiet time with the Lord and have an attitude adjustment before the day comes rolling in full steam ahead. Mindset. Prepare. Choose Joy.God sings over you with joy

Then stuff happens.

At the end of the day I wonder what he would say if I asked, “God did I meet all your expectations today?” But you know what? I don’t think God loves me any less if I messed up his pattern. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty warrior who saves. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

You see, you can work hard or coast; make the most of every moment or waste the minutes. God delights in you with gladness. God rejoices over you with joyful songs. Anyone who sings over you, is not holding a grudge, is not angry, is not waiting to catch you up. He rejoices over you with joyful songs – no strings attached. God wants obedience and doesn’t want you to give up. God wants what’s best for you and that is believing him, trusting him, and loving him. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He expects us to stay faithful and not give up. He is a God of new beginnings.

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. Jude 1:2


Sometimes my Tapestry Looks Like a Quilt Square

Does a thought every hit you and it just won’t leave your head? That happened to me when I woke up this morning – and it won’t leave my head because now it’s on my list.

That’s what I want to talk about – because – well, let me tell you.

A few years ago, I was really struggling with my purpose. I don’t want to bore you with all the years of introspection, self help books, and career counseling I went through to answer the simple question, “Why am I here?” I could go through a litany of ideas: corporate trainer, book author, professional blogger, social media diva – The truth is, my purpose is not one of those things. God showed me that my purpose is simply to do what he wants me to do every day. My purpose has nothing to do with what to be, but has everything to do with being what he calls me to be in the moment.

God calls some people to be ‘something’ he called me to just be. And now you know why I write about the craziness of lists. Maybe God has called you to be ‘something’, but what if he called you to love him and serve him in the moment? Our lives, no matter what, are never a straight line. Life is like tangled threads.

I like to think of life as a huge tapestry that God looks down on from his place in heaven. He sees the pattern, even the flaws where there are human errors, but he keeps weaving the threads anyway. We, who are the threads, see the process of the pattern. Doesn’t it look like a tangled mess at times?

quilt square - purpose

Yeh, sometimes my tapestry looks like a quilt square.

I remember writing in my journal one day. I was asking God what he envisioned for my life. I had recently been in an accident an nearly died. God chose to spare my life. That’s a pretty clear indication that he isn’t finished with me yet. After writing and hashing through a menagerie of my own thoughts, I asked, “What is your plan for me?” I didn’t hear an audible voice or anything, but I felt it. “Be you. I made you with the personality you don’t appreciate and gifts you think are not valuable. Use your attitude, talents, personality and gifts to encourage people who need to know they matter.”

My little part of the tapestry, my purpose, is to encourage people. I don’t want to mess that up because that would put a serious flaw in the pattern. My lists are all based on having a PEACEful heart. Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” If you’re curious, this is how my lists materialize to be purposeful and have a peaceful heart.

P – Pray – and have quiet time with the Lord. I pray and also write out my prayers to God and read his instruction manual, the Bible as well as a devotional.
E – Exercise – I don’t want my family to have to take care of me because I didn’t take care of myself when I had the chance. I have a reminder and I have another friend who won’t let me forget.
A – Accountability – I write on my list what I will be accountable for that day. A project, task, or appointment – and I often ask a friend to pray about this with me and hold me accountable because even though I am accountable to God first, it helps to have a coach.
C – Commitments – These are work I have promised to do for someone. It might be client work or it might be to take a meal to someone, visit a person who needs to be cheered up, during school season child care on Wednesday morning, or on specific Sundays help out in children’s church. God expects me to keep commitments. I write them down.
E – Encourage – In some way, every day, encourage someone. Write a card, send an email, give of my time to cheer someone up, use my words to bring joy to others. If I see someone without a smile, I share mine. Simple act, but sometimes I need to see that on my list to remember to be diligent about it.

So now you might understand my obsessions with lists that never end. We are all creating the tapestry that is life. God created us to be unique and recognize that we have value while we live our purpose. I don’t know your method or how you live your purpose, but I need a list so I don’t forget.


What do you find in the secret, in the quiet place? Is it God?

Do you ever wake up to your heart singing a song? This morning even before I opened my eyes I heard “In the secret, in the quiet place. In the stillness you are there. In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait only for you, so I can know you more …” I was faintly aware of a bird chirping at intervals from some hidden place outside my window, a backdrop to the concert surrounding my consciousness. In the secret, in the quiet place – that is where we find God. That is where we find healing and comfort. That is where we find strength and where we find hope.

I’m reading a book right now titled The Anatomy of Peace. It isn’t a Christian, biblically based book but it’s transformational for people who want to live in peace and make behavioral choices that heal their brokenness. As I read, this verse kept coming back to me. Psalm 37:37 “Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.”

My heart is broken for a young couple who had a tragic motorcycle accident. God spared their lives but it will be a year and maybe longer before they are able to resume their normal lives. Many prayers are offered for them moment to moment. I pray for them and think of Psalm 119:50 “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

I have a friend who has suddenly been immersed in the role of caregiver for aging parents. When my mom was living through the final stages of cancer my sister was in a similar role and I stepped in only twice a month to give her some relief. When we are forced into a lifestyle we would never choose and wonder what this means for our future, remember Proverbs 24:14 “Know that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Pray for wisdom, God promises he will honor that. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Nothing catches God by surprise. Psalm 139:16 assures us of that. Whatever you are going through today in this moment has already passed through the hands of omniscient God. He knew the moments of your life before you were born.  “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

I’ve often wondered about this questions in Psalm 42:2. 2 “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Does it mean when will I meet God face to face? Or was it written to encourage us to seek God and spend time with him in prayer and reading his letter written to us and printed in the form of a book, the Bible?

In the secret, in the quiet place – that is where we find God.

Chris Tomlin – In the Secret, in the quiet place. In the stillness You, God are there.