Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

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Graduation photo tossing hats by Emily Reinquist

I Don’t Know… You Know What I Mean?

“I don’t know. . . You know what I mean?” This was a friend of mine’s response when being asked for some difficult future advice. It sounds funny, but I do understand what he meant. How many times have we lacked the wisdom and the right words? How many times have we been caught in a situation that we don’t understand, or felt lost hoping someone can point us in the right direction?

Graduation celebration Pexels photo by Emily Reinquist

It’s graduation season, and many young adults will leave home to start their futures. I still remember staring at the college application where it asks to declare a major. I had no idea. I took one of those career tests at school to determine what professions would be best for me. The test said I should be either a Rabbi or a parole officer. Since I wasn’t Jewish nor male, I figured the Rabbi position was probably out, and no offense to any parole officers out there, but I can’t imagine the push-over in me surviving long in that job.

I was stuck, afraid I’d pick the wrong thing and ruin my life. I was waiting for lightning, inspiration, or God’s voice to tell me what I should be. I thought there had to be perfect conditions. I thought I had to know everything before I could venture out.

I was wrong.

Whether I picked an unfit major or worked at a few jobs that might not have been for me, it all worked out. Each was a learning experience. Each developed my character and allowed me insight to know who and what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Fork in Road

Did it slow me down and keep me from my potential?

Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes the best way to find yourself is to first experience what it’s like to be lost.

There is no return without some risk. We have to step forward and make the opportunity. Mistakes will happen, but we can’t fear them. God Almighty isn’t going to let a few mistakes ruin His plan for your life. God’s will is going to be done, and even if we swerve off the path a couple of times, He can get us back on track. But one thing is for certain, it’s a lot harder to steer a car when it’s in park.

“A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” – Proverbs 20:24 (NKJV)

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Road Block or Toll Booth?

Avoiding potential disaster is not how my husband likes spending his holiday. However, this past Memorial Day, instead of BBQing, he reverted into crisis prevention mode because the main hard-drive of our company’s server decided to stop working. If it wasn’t back up and running for the following morning, we’d have an entire staff with nothing to do without a computer or internet. The IT company we pay to help us in crisis told us they were on vacation and good luck getting a hard drive on a holiday. Thankfully, a good friend who happens to work in IT stepped in and saved the day, for which we are very grateful.

Roadblock or Tollbooth?

Toll Booth

Tim Elmore, the author of Habitudessays we have to decide whether we let our problems be roadblocks or toll booths. When we run into a roadblock, we’re stuck. Our problem either makes us immobile or sends us back to the way we came. When we see our problems as toll booths, we pay the price and move past them to keep going.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”

Dwelling on our problems keeps us stuck. God doesn’t want us not to ignore our issues, but He doesn’t want our issues to keep us trapped. We will fall, but Proverbs says we should dust ourselves off and keep going. Pay the consequence and move forward. Expect adversity so you’ll be ready to overcome and move past it.

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Bendy character with panicked expression

How to Attack Panic

bendy figure with worried expression

“They want my parenting advice?” I laughed at being asked to speak on a parenting panel for our church. I’m proud of how my boys have become responsible young adults. I prayed hard they’d discover their passions at an early age in which to direct their energy. However, there was a time when it was an amazing feat for me to make it through a parent-teacher conference without crying. I used to cringe when the phone rang because it usually meant a teacher or principal was on the other line.

Why would anyone listen to me?

I sweated out what questions would be asked by the audience, and how I would respond. People say they get butterflies. I had a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds flapping in my stomach. I stressed over saying the wrong thing. Public speaking is different than writing. There is no delete button. I can’t go back and edit my words. What was I thinking agreeing to do this?

Don't panic button

The day came, and questions were asked, and the panel handled them open and honestly. There wasn’t a question posed that someone on the panel hadn’t dealt with already in a lesser or greater extent. I got to talk about my boys’ struggles and how those challenges have developed their perseverance and character. People came up to me later and actually thanked me.

Like the conductor of an orchestra, God directed the entire thing.

Moses felt the same insecurities when God asked him to speak to Pharaoh and lead his people out of Egypt. He doubted whether he was the right person. He told God no one was going to believe God sent him, that they’ll think he’d hallucinated or something. He then complained that he wasn’t a good public speaker and even begged God to send someone else.

Moses was dealing with over anticipation. We make things into more than they are and blow it out of proportion. We panic and work ourselves up into a hailstorm of “what ifs” that leave us paralyzed in fear. My favorite of God’s answers was when Moses implied he was clumsy with words. God asks Moses, “Who makes mouths?” He then tells Moses, “Go … and I will tell you what to say” (Exodus 4:12).

God will not send us out ill-equipped. He will ask us to do things out of our comfort zone, but He won’t send us without providing means and resources. We must trust God to give us the boldness, confidence, and words at the right moment.  

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Don’t Be Goop!

batter on a whisk

My thirteen-year-old son and I love to watch shows like Cake Wars where bakers rush under a time constraint to make the most delicious, creative, and outlandish cakes possible. It gets our creative brains churning along with our stomachs. To make a cake, the contestants put flour, sugar, eggs, etc. into a bowl and mix it up. However, just mixing those ingredients doesn’t form a cake. It makes goop. It takes the transfer of heat from the oven to transform the batter into a cake.

I enjoy reading self-help books and the psychologist in me loves to find ways to change behavior and thinking, but often after reading these books, I’m left with the feeling of something still missing. The author gives us all the ingredients to mix together to find happiness, and it might work for a short time, but something is missing. It’s only cake goop.

Often, we think, if we could just reach this goal, buy that nice house, or change our attitude, we will find peace and happiness. It may even feel like it for a time. If someone dips their finger into cake batter goop, it will taste similar to cake but becoming a cake takes something more than a change in attitude or the temporary high of reaching a goal.

There is something prideful about thinking we can create our happiness, joy, and peace. If we want to find everlasting, sustainable joy, if we want to be a cake and not just goop, we need a transformation from the inside out. Asking God into our heart, allows His love to heal our brokenness and gives us a broader eternal perspective. It allows His Holy Spirit to flow into our lives and rise into a new person.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   – Romans 15:13

my son's 4th birthday spiderman cake

Side note: This is a picture of my son’s 4th birthday, where a friend of mine jokingly said, “Go ahead and spit the candles out.” To which my son did as he was told. Seconds after this picture was taken, I had to scrape off all the frosting.

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Teddy Roosevelt giving a speech

The Key to Commanding a Room

Are you the brightest person in the room? By brightest, I’m not talking about smarts. I mean magnetism, what draws people.

Smiley face emoji among a crowd of frowny face emojis

 Some people desire to be the center of attention others want to be treated like they’re the only person in the room. Think James Bond or Clark Gable. It wasn’t their flashy suits or dapper smiles that made them dreamy (even though it did add to it). It was their confidence, their attitude, and most of all the way they tuned out the rest of the room once the leading lady entered.

My favorite part of a novel is what’s called the cute meet. I’ve written about heroines and heroes meeting on dance floors, elevators, and climbing in windows. In my new release, The Duke’s Refuge, coming out in Jan 2020, the hero thinks the heroine has lost her mind because she wades out into the breakers in a full gown to save her trunks from sinking to the bottom of the ocean. No matter whether it’s a comical first impression, like yanking a hero onto a ballroom dancefloor to avoid someone, or dangerous, like believing the hero is an intruder and whacking him over the head with a candlestick, the heroine grabs the hero’s attention.

The Art of Manliness blog writer Brett McKay wrote an article entitledCommand a Room Like a Man. In the article, he suggests the following:

Theodore Roosevelt making a speech
  • Enter a room boldly,
  • Stand tall,
  • Straighten the silverware at the dinner table or move the salt shaker (this mentally makes you feel more in control).
  • Make eye contact.

My parents offered similar advice (minus the salt shaker thing but add a firm handshake). However, at the end of the article, McKay says the key to owning a room is to be other’s focused. People are drawn to people who take an interest in them.

When we’re paid a genuine compliment, we’re likely to get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Moreover, think about how you felt toward the person who paid you the compliment. Typically, our guard will drop, and we’ll feel happy to be around that person. Same goes for those who inquire about your interests. I’m thrilled when people ask me how my writing is going or about my books. I’m often more pleased that they took the time to ask about something that brings me joy, sometimes even more so then the opportunity to talk about it. McKay states, “When we shine a light on a person, they reflect that light back on us. If we shine a light on every person in the room, we end up being the brightest man there (Command a Room Like a Man, McKay 7/2009).”

His comment reminded me of 2 Corinthians 3:18So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” Jesus was others focused, and when we put others before ourselves, we are reflecting his glory. When we seek God, we become changed inside and out, and we reflect his light. When we reflect his love and his light, then Jesus becomes the brightest person in the room.

Crocuses blooming

A Change Will Do Us Good

Crocuses blooming

Spring is my favorite time of the year. It holds the promise of warmer weather. Our dead yellow grass springs up in a verdant green. Buds on trees burst into flowery white clouds, and bulbs open their colorful faces to the sun. The cold drabness of winter comes alive and new again.

The same thing happened to me after I started going to church. My husband and I, up until that point, had put our heads down and poured everything into growing a company and savings. Then, 9/11 happened and brought the world to a standstill. That horrific day stirred up questions I hadn’t wanted to face. Is this life all there is? Is there truly evil in this world? Do I serve a purpose?

I’d like to say we started attending church that Sunday, but no. It took me five months of stifling those niggling questions before the aching need, for something I didn’t yet understand, overrode my excuses for why I should stay in bed. My husband and I warily strolled into church. In my mind, I was just going to give it a try.

I left changed.

There wasn’t a bolt of lightning. I didn’t break free from my cocoon and morph into a butterfly during that service. I remember being greeted by a man named Donny who smiled and welcomed us. I recall pausing to look at my husband during worship to see if the live band overwhelmed his instilled Catholic mindset. (He now is the electric guitarist in that band – go figure.) I had laughed and smiled all through the sermon about parenting, and a woman named Laura hugged me on the way out.

Butterfly emerged from cocoon

We drove back to our same home, in the same car, but I wasn’t the same. My heart held hope. I remember feeling lighter, excited. The earth hadn’t fallen off its axis. For everyone else, the day had been a day just like any other, but the dead shell of my old self had cracked open, and a small sprig of the changed me started to grow.

Easter reminds us of Jesus’s love and the ultimate sacrifice made for us, yet we still go about our week normal. Shouldn’t Easter renew the same feelings of hope and excitement? After being reminded about the cross, how are we not left changed?

Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” Two thousand plus years after Jesus’s death, the world has changed a great deal, but I beg to differ with Monsieur Karr. We are not the same. Jesus’s resurrection allowed the Holy Spirit to come into the world. It emboldened the disciples and changed hearts. An encounter with the Holy Spirit helps you see others differently and find love where there was none. It prompts you to be moved, be changed, and to love because you are loved. 

Don’t remain unchanged. 

Let the truth about Jesus’s sacrificial love sink into your heart. Steep in the hope it brings and gets excited about the promise of everlasting life with a Lord who’d give everything to have you by His side for all eternity. Realize there is more to life than wake, work, eat, sleep, and repeat. You have a purpose. Become grateful for what God has done for you, in you, and is going to do through you.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 NLT

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Crown of Bavaria

Kings Aren’t for Everyone

Crown of Bavaria

My family rented Aquaman over the weekend. One line in the movie stuck with me and instilled a new perspective on kings. Here’s the dialogue:

Mera: Atlantis has always had a king, now it needs something more.
Aquaman: What could be greater than a king?
Atlanna: A hero. A king fights only for its nation, but you fight for everyone.

Okay, so maybe a king isn’t for everyone?

Atlanna was right. Throughout history, kings have fought mostly to defend or expand their nations. European Kings rose to power due to their ability to conquer and maintain their holdings. After William the Conquer seized power in 1066 A.D., he established a feudal system in England where land was granted to Barons, who in return, offered their fidelity and service to protect the king and his country. After that, it became rare for a king to ride into battle himself. Kings sent their best warriors to fight on their behalf.

Should we hold out for a hero, instead? 

Boy dressed as superhero

We are fascinated with superheroes. Marvel Studios, the maker of the Avengers films and others, has proven our obsession regarding people with superpowers by grossing nearly 11 billion dollars in sales. Little boys dress up in capes and pretend to save the day. They dream about catching the bad guys and fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. 

What if saving the day isn’t enough?

In college, I took a world religions class. I was fascinated by all the similarities and differences between the religions. As the professor taught from a non-biased perspective, part of me wanted to stand up and yell, Don’t you see? In all these other religions, humans desperately work to sacrifice to their god or gods. They seek to earn favor, but Christianity is different. Jesus not only freely offers his love to anyone who’ll believe, but He sacrificed Himself for us, not the other way around.

A hero may save the day, but a Savior saves us for all eternity.

God didn’t send his best warriors out to fight the battle. He came himself. He assumed our fallible human form and laid down his life as a sacrifice. Out of His unfathomable love for us, he allowed himself to be beaten, mocked, and crucified during a time when the most brutal means of torture possible was used to extend the torment. He did this for us knowing our past sins, the filth of our present sins, and willful acts of sin we’d commit in the future. He bore them all and chose to die because He loves us.

Jesus stepped down from his throne, took off his superhero cape, and allowed nails to be driven into his hands.

All hail our Savior! 

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There’s More to Life Than This.

After the age of twenty-one, our bodies begin to die.

I first heard this morbid declaration from one of my college professors. I remember it clearly because I had just turned twenty-one. My friend, who was nineteen leaned in and said, “Stinks to be you.”

Elderly Man who looks strangly similar to my college professor

My professor wasn’t crazy. Research shows starting at around age twenty our cells don’t sequence the way they used to in the past (How we age, The Scientist, March 2015). Think of our cell reproduction in terms of a photocopy. If you keep photocopying the original, you end up with decent copies, but if you photocopy a photocopy and then photocopy that photocopy, the quality goes down significantly. The nice term for this process is called aging.

So, what do we do when most of us still have another three-quarter of our lives to go? Do we fall into a funk? Do we long for the good old days back when our skin was still tone, and our bodies didn’t ache? Do we invest oodles of money in products and programs promising to reverse the aging process?

Can’t we get more out of life?

Absolutely! In Philippians 3: 20-21 (AMP) Paul says, “But [we are different, because] our citizenship is in heaven. And from there we eagerly await [the coming of] the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself, will [not only] transform [but completely refashion] our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious resurrected body.”

Don’t focus on the shell. Instead, nourish the seed. 

growing plant held in hand

In Genesis, Adam and Eve were formed in God’s perfect image, but then the fall of man happened (when Adam and Eve ate the apple), compound that with time, and you now have bodies that are corrupted, sinful, and weakened. Our bodies all have an expiration date. However, like the seed from a tree, new life lies within the old shell. Thanks to Jesus, we can believe that someday we will shed this dying shell and be clothed in a new glorious body.

Less of me and more of Jesus

While the world (especially commercials) concentrates on the exterior, God is growing and developing us spiritually. He is making us into His likeness. Romans 12:2 states, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Since the day my professor made that statement, another 20 years have passed. I now have a few smile lines and some gray hairs poking through, but I wouldn’t change my appearance if it meant losing the work God has done in my heart during that time. I’m still a work in progress, but God is making me into a new person, one with more grace, patience, and love than the old me.

Maybelline can’t do miracles, but God can. 

Be excited for our future, because we will be made new. When the day comes, and these earthly bodies have hit their expiration, we’ll slip out of these old rags and get down in our new garbs.

“And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,[a]including the new bodies he has promised us.” –  Romans 8:23 (NLT)

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The Simple Way to Reach Forgiveness.

Far from land in off the coast of St. Thomas in the Carribean Sea, my parents were scuba diving in beautiful coral reefs with their friends. Every detail had been planned out. They’d rented a boat and hired a knowledgable captain and crew who would man the boat while they drift dived. Their friends were certified scuba diving instructors. 

What could go wrong?

My mom and dad scuba diving
My mom and dad scuba diving in St. Thomas

My parent’s first thought as they emerged after a long dive and bobbed in the waves, was where is the boat? They discovered it off in the distance and waved their arms to get the captain’s attention, but the boat never turned. It turns out, the captain and crew abandoned their posts to go lobster trapping, and in the strong current, the anchor didn’t hold.

A helpless panic settled in their stomachs. They were adrift in the ocean.

My mom says it’s the closest she’s ever come to drowning.

My dad pushed himself to the limit and eventually made it to the boat. Exhausted and completely spent, he turned the boat around and picked up my mom and the others. I’m certain the captain got an earful when my father lowered the ladder for him and his crew. The captain had messed up. He’d risked all of their lives. My life and the life of my younger brother could have been dramatically altered all because a captain wanted to eat lobster for dinner?

Thinking about it makes me angry. Fortunately, my parents lived to tell me the tale, but not everyone can say the same. How does one move past the anger, the hurt, and the pain to forgive a wrong?

REACH – is an acronym for emotional forgiveness developed by Everett Worthington of Virginia Commonwealth University.
R is for Recall – objectively remembering the hurt
E is for Empathy – understanding the person who wronged you
A is for Altruism – Remembering a time you were forgiven and offering forgiveness
C is for Committing – publically forgiving
H is for Holding on – reminding yourself that you’ve chosen to forgive despite the hurt

The A is the key to this formula—remembering what’s been done for us so we can forgive also. Jesus took our past, future, and present sins and nailed them to the cross. He forgave us so that we no longer have to bear the weight of our shame. Because of what he did for us our guilt is removed as far as the east is from the west.

Some will say, But you don’t understand the hurt… you don’t understand the pain…

Stained glass of Jesus on the cross

Jesus does. He bore the worst hurt, rejection, and pain a person can withstand, and he did it for us.

At one point or another, we’ve all been the captain, putting our desires first, not considering the consequences, making wrong decisions that affect other’s lives. We’ve messed up. But, we have a forgiving God who sees our faults and loves us anyway.

He forgives us.

The act of forgiveness is never easy, but it becomes manageable when your viewing it from the perspective of the cross.

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Modern clean lined living rooom

Comparison – The “Oh Shiney Object” of Purpose.

I threw out all my home décor magazines.

It turns out they were not good for my mental state.

Modern Living Room

I’d look at the beautiful homes and the new fashions and colors and grow discontented with the scuff marks on my walls, the dents in the baseboards, and the outdated style. The more I compared my home to the fancy high-end homes of the rich and famous, the less satisfied I became with what I had.

We’d done some renovations already. Why wasn’t I satisfied with that?

Tom Gilovich, a behavioral economist from Cornell University, found that although we might find a slight uptick or rush in happiness when we first purchase something, it quickly dwindles as we adapt to it. Psychologists have coined the term “hedonistic treadmill”—after the initial rush of happiness wears off, to maintain the feeling of stimulation, people go out and purchase another and another to maintain the rush.

The ugliness of comparison.
Saul, the first king of Israel, was a tall, handsome, and a fierce warrior. He was everything the Israelites wanted in a king. However, Saul was driven crazy by a song. In 1 Samuel chapter 18, women were singing about their heroes and the decimation of their enemies by chanting Saul had slain his thousands, but David has slain his ten thousands. King Saul should have been psyched. David was on his team. By destroying their enemies, David saved King Saul a lot of work and added to his greatness. But Saul wasn’t happy.

“We won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated by purpose.” – Bob Goff

The ugliness of comparison altered Saul’s judgement. It distracted him from being a great King and instead turned his focus onto being better than one specific shepherd boy. From Saul’s view from his castle, the grass seemed greener in the shepherd boy’s pasture. Ultimately, comparison destroyed Saul.

Woman putting on makeup

I see the same inner turmoil, especially in women. We often get all dolled up, not to woo our man, but to one-up the other women present. The beast of comparison rears its ugly head. The true purpose of enjoying friendships is often lost behind layers of mascara, lipstick, and tummy suckers.

“Happiness isn’t getting what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve already got.” – Garth Brooks

My house is not shiny and new. It’s a home. It’s lived in, comfortable, and enjoyable. Troupes of children pass through, tracking in dirt and raiding the cabinets. If I updated it into the mausoleums pictured in the magazines, in the end, how much happier would I truly be? And for how long? Would I be trading my family time and or writing time for safeguarding the house against smudges and scratches? And what happens when the next magazine issue comes out with a different latest up-and-coming style?

I’m exhausted thinking about it. It’s not worth it to me. As it turns out, I derive more pleasure out of knowing people feel welcome in our home. I do, however, hope that distressed furniture will make a comeback.

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