Is self-importance killing your soul?

“If your soul is unhealthy, you can’t help anyone.” Dallas Willard

I am currently reading John Ortberg’s, Soul Keeping: Caring for the most important part of you.

Somewhere along the line, John wrote a few sentences on how self-importance can kill the soul.

SoulThese words had more impact on me then the entire book.

Sometimes it is the small things that make the biggest difference.

How does self-importance kill the soul?

I believe it is a subtle killer that sneaks up on you, like cancer.

Here are some examples of how I have seen self-importance over taken me and others.

I am a gold member on Alaska Airlines – I should go first.

I paid top dollar for the condo at the vacation resort – The condo should be five star and I should be treated with respect and acknowledgement.

I have 20 items in my basket but am in a hurry for a ministry event so I jump in the 12 or under line.

I feel pain because of my past, childhood upbringing, or poor choices and want the world to know how bad I had it or about the poor decisions I made.

I talk more than I listen.

I make assumptions about other people’s lives, thinking I have all the answers and solutions.

Self-importance is really idolatry of self. There is no way around it. When I do any of these things above, I have put myself above God and above others.

My need for recognition, my need to be seen, my need to be known, trumps any knowledge that I am teetering dangerously on the edge of a broken and empty soul.

In John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping, Dallas Willard says, “You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God. This alone is what makes a soul healthy.”

How is your soul today?


The 13th Disciple…What does it mean to follow Jesus?

SecurityThe Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus and asked what it would take to follow Him and receive eternal life. Jesus replied, “’If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property” (Matthew 19:21-22 NASB).

Knowing the Rich Young Ruler’s heart, Jesus addressed the issue of money. But the truth in this story is not about money, it is about the need to be self-sufficient. The Rich Young Ruler “was responsible for much”, he didn’t have time to drop everything and follow Jesus. Self-sufficiency is our dependency on ourselves to take care of things, to control our environment, to provide for our families, to feel secure. The Rich Young Ruler didn’t become the 13th Disciple because he wasn’t able to give up what made him feel secure – money and responsibility. For us to be complete, we must surrender our self-dependency and trust Jesus to provide everything we need in life.

Following Jesus is not safe. Jesus demands a radical life change when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Our need for Jesus must become larger than our need for security.

Have you made that change? I haven’t.

My life has been radically changed by Christ, and like the Rich Young Ruler, I do my best to keep all the laws of scripture. But when it comes to the true meaning of following Jesus, I follow Jesus when it is convenient. I have fit the work of Jesus in, around my life, making sure not to upset the balance of home, family, finances, or fun. I have done a pretty good job of “having it all”.

But Jesus never called us to have it all. That is the language of the world. Jesus calls us, just like he did the twelve disciples who left everything to work beside Jesus and bring light to a dark world.

Becoming the 13th disciple means surrendering all that we want to control, all that makes us comfortable and secure, and trusting Jesus to do something miraculous in and through our lives that will change the world.

Are you ready?

If you are, ask Jesus the same question the Rich Young Ruler asked: What will it take to follow you?

Are you tired of trying to read between the lines?




reding between the lines

Last week on a walk with my neighbor, we were comparing stories of similar conversations we had been having with our teenage sons over their forgetfulness of doing household chores. The conversations with our sons went something like this:

Mom:Son, I know you have a lot of homework but please don’t forget to take care of your household chores as well.”

Son: Silent. Body language says: I am irritated with that statement but not sure how to respond.

Mom:Did you hear what I said?”

Son: “Do you know how hard I work? It’s not like I am standing around doing nothing.  Can’t I just have a break.”

Mom:I never said you didn’t work hard. I am only reminding you that you have household chores you need to do in addition to your school work.”

This conversation made me laugh because I realized I was not alone in my conversations with my son, and it also reminded me of a blog I wrote a few years back about reading between the lines.

How often do we find ourselves reading between the lines not only in family relationships but also in work relationships? My son read: My mom doesn’t appreciate how hard I work. She doesn’t notice or recognize how much I do. If she did, she would never ask me to do my chores. Of course, this assumption was not the truth, it was only how my son was feeling at the time of the conversation.

It is time we started taking people at their word and be free from the guessing game of reading between the lines.

Re-Post from June 2013

How often in relationships do you find yourself trying to reading between the lines?

One of the most valuable gifts I ever received was when a friend noticed my need to read in-between the lines and she said, “Angela, I don’t know what relationships you have with other people, but with me, I would like our yeses to be yes, and our noes to be no. I don’t want you to give my words meaning that I didn’t say.” In that moment, I felt absolute freedom. Freedom from the responsibility to be a people pleaser, a peace-keeper, or a mind-reader.

Jesus taught his disciples the same principle. “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” Matthew 5:37 (NIV).

The statement, “anything beyond this comes from the evil one” seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? But it really isn’t when you understand that Satan’s main goal is to break relationship. He is famous for encouraging us to interpret conversations through our feelings instead of truth. This can turn mental friction into fire, even in the most platonic of conversations.

If you decide to live by the rule of letting your yeses be yes and your noes be no, you give yourself the freedom to say what you need and the responder the option to answer honestly. When you respond to others with the same expectation, holding them accountable for their words, you will eventually stop the unhealthy patterns of non-verbal communication and encourage that person to speak their needs and desires as well.

Today, I invite you to live a life of freedom by simply saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

Enjoy it!

Would you believe me if I told you that recognition is more important than love?

In a 60 minutes interview, Lesley Stahl reported on a new show called “Alive55 + and Kickin” in Harlem. Inspired by Vi Higginsen – Mama Foundation for the Arts, Vi’s vision was to bring real people, not trained actors, over the age of 55 to the stage to tell their stories through song.

During the interview, Leslie Stahl spoke with each of the performers to hear the background of the song they chose to represent their story. Matthew Burke’s story struck through my heart like an iron arrow lit on fire.

Here is an excerpt of his interview with Lesley Stahl.

Matthew Burke spent most of his singing career in jail. He sold drugs, and committed violent armed robbery — but what he wanted to talk about in the show was what he had recently discovered in a case file about the first weeks of his life.

Lesley Stahl: It says that you were abandoned at two and a half weeks in a hallway.

Matthew Burke: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: Mother unknown. Father unknown.

The first thing most of us get from our parents is a name. He was simply — “abandoned #2360.”

Lesley Stahl: You are a number.

Matthew Burke: And you wanna know something? I became 81A3684. I became 00A6432. That’s been my life, a number.

Lesley Stahl: You’re smiling. But you don’t mean it.

Matthew Burke: Right. And that’s the defense mechanism.

Lesley Stahl: ‘Cause it’s horrible.

He was named Matthew Burke by a priest in the first of many foster homes. When he sings the song “Georgia,” he told us he’s trying to give a name to what he lost.

Matthew Burke: If I had to give my mother a name. And I could give her a name. I can. It would be Georgia.

Lesley Stahl: I know a psychiatrist who says the most important question she asks somebody is, “When you were growing up, who loved you?” Do you have an answer?

Matthew Burke: That’s very difficult to answer– who loved me– because there’s different types of love.

Lesley Stahl: Uncondition. I mean–

Matthew Burke: Yeah, unconditional–

Lesley Stahl: That’s what I mean.

Matthew Burke: I’ve never– I’ve never experienced that.

Lesley Stahl: So you– you have no answer for that question.

Matthew Burke: I have no answer. To this day I have no answer to that (CBSNews, 2015).

Would you believe me if I told you that recognition is more important than love?

Every human being is born with the desire to be known and to be seen. Or as my friend, Denise would say, “to have a witness to their life”.  For Matthew, it was the desire to be recognized by his mother. To be given a name.

Our behaviors are driven by our need for recognition.

Matthew expressed his anger and rejection through crime and violence while trying to mask his pain through drugs and alcohol.

What about you?


I tried anything to get that guy who was no good for me

I am a perfectionist

I am a people pleaser

I have been passive aggressive when others got the stage that I wanted

I have gossiped and have been critical about others to make myself feel better about my imperfections

I have compare my “likes” to her “likes”

I have been easily offended

I have run from responsible

I have hit my hurts in food, shopping, and even drugs and alcohol when I was desperate to fit in

I have quit before I saw the finish line because there was no cheering squad on the sidelines when going got tough.

Do you see yourself in any of these behaviors?




For Matthew Burke, like all people, love is expressed through recognition.

Unfortunately, people will disappoint you. They are human and will make mistakes. There may be someone whom you seek recognition from all your life and never receive it.

But the good new is, there is one person who will never disappoint you. He’s known you before the formation of the earth, before the day you were born. He sees you, He knows you,  and He calls you a masterpiece – chosen and favored.

Do you know Him?


To read a full transcript of Lesley Stahl’s 60 Minute’s Interview visit:

Know Your Purpose and Identify Your Calling

Calling and purpose are somewhat of a mantra for me. But when I find someone who can articulate there meaning better than me, I have to share it! Not only that, the person who wrote this blog is one of my closes friends and colleagues. What could be better!

In addition, I am including a FREE leadership training Angela and I did on the subject of Women and Calling in January 2015. You can watch it on YouTube at the bottom of this blog or anytime on


Know Your Purpose and Identify Your Calling

By Angela Howard

Angela HAngela Howard is an author and minister who loves empowering people with authentic encouragement and Biblical perspective for their imperfect lives. Her book: How to Love Your Crazy Family is on amazon and you can connect with her on her blog at



Do you ever find yourself paralyzed and overwhelmed by life? Family responsibilities, work demands and simply maintaining relationships can leave us undone. I’m in that place right now. My good plans to recharge and reevaluate in December were sidelined and I’ve yet to catch my breath.

I’ve spent January decluttering my life and was about to get out my schedule and plan my ideal week when I realized that I needed to look at each day through the lens of my purpose and my calling.

AH Purpose

Do You Know Your Purpose?

Jesus prayed to His Father saying: I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. John 17:4 (ESV, emphasis mine)

I had to ask myself the important question: Am I doing the work that God has given me to do or the work that I have purposed to do? Jesus glorified God, fulfilling His purpose on earth, by doing the work that His Father gave Him to do.

Likewise, our purpose is to glorify God by doing what He is calling us to do. Nothing more, nothing less. But how will we tune into this calling unless we know Him!

LB Cowman writes, “To know Christ is life’s greatest achievement.” You and I are unified in purpose—to know and glorify God. Looking at our lives through this lens will enable us to edit attitudes, activities and motives that are not bringing glory to God.

Identify Your Calling

If you’ve never identified your calling it’s not too late! Our calling is the unique way that we individually carry out our purpose. In fact, calling can vary as we move through different seasons of our lives but will often have a theme or a signature idea.

As parents we have a calling to raise devoted followers of Christ—eternal beings who will represent Jesus to the world. This doesn’t stop when they’re 18, 21 or start a family of their own. It’s a lifelong calling that varies as we move from disciplinarians and protectors, to advisors and friends.

In vocation, in family, in volunteering and in ministry we can identify a calling that will be beautifully interwoven between these different roles. Ask yourself these questions:

Where did I find my greatest joy as a child?

What seems too big for me to achieve on my own?

What’s one thing you would do if there were no obstacles?

What is God asking me to do today?

If your life is feeling off-center it’s time to remember your purpose and identify your calling. Everything else will start to come into focus as you see things through the fresh motivation and inspiration that comes from an extraordinary life lived with intention.

Have you identified your calling? Angela and I would love to hear about it! Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.



Talk Tuesday…A Series on Balance (Blog 5 – Dream Team)

Talk Tuesday logo 2

Every Tuesday we engage in one big question, topic or idea. You are invited to write in with a suggestion you want to share. I surely do not have all the answers but know that together we can generate some great conversation and have fun in the process. (Feel free to post your topics, questions, and your great thoughts in the comments below!) Together, we will stay informed and equipped about topics that matter!

Today’s Blog Contributor:

Katie Rogers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy name is Katie Rogers. I live in Forks, Washington and currently work at Forks Hospital. I’m currently working on being credentialed through the Assemblies of God. I co-teach a Sunday school class and lead Women’s Bible study. I also serve on the Women’s Team for the Northwest Ministry Network as Leader for the Olympic Area.


Dream Team

In 1992 the United States had a powerhouse basketball team for the Olympics known as the Dream Team. They worked so well as a team you would think they’d been playing together since grade school. They each knew their roles and their strengths and they covered one another’s weaknesses. They understood without one another they couldn’t succeed as a team or in the Olympics.

In order to achieve balance we need a team as well. We love to be independent, we love to think we can conquer the world alone, but it’s not possible.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (NIV) I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.

Christ’s plan was never for us to be an island unto ourselves; His plan was for us to each fulfill our part of the Body of Christ.

What does this look like in our lives?


Do you have a spouse, a child, or relatives that help in everyday activities or maybe even in a crisis? People that you can communicate to that you are lacking in one area or another and they need to help pick up the slack? Or maybe they are willing to hold you accountable to the priorities you’ve laid out?


Do you have more than one friend that chats with you, prays with you and who can come along side you in the good and the bad? Don’t allow yourself to isolate yourself so much that you depend on only one friend but don’t have so many people having an expectation of you that your spread too thin.


What area of ministry are you plugged into at church or in your community? Does your ministry have a team of people who are gifted in a variety of areas? Who can do their task and allow you to do yours while covering the weaknesses for one another or even assisting one another?

Without our own Dream Team we are left alone on an island. We need to ask God to help us hand select our Dream Team to prevent the losses that would make the scale of life be thrown off balance, making more losses than wins. God created us to win with others!

Each of us were created to be a part of God’s team, what is your role in the Body of Christ?


What we teach our children shapes their gender identity, their self-confidence, their worth, and their ability to walk in a life of calling and purpose as an adult. Whether you are male or female, be empowered today to be who God created you to be!

Does Anyone Else Gain Weight by Pinning Sweet Treats on Pinterest?

Over the holidays a mysteriously thing happened. I gained 10 pounds but didn’t bake or eat any of the sweet treats I dreamed about while pinning them to my Christmas dessert board on Pinterest. Is it possible to gain weight by merely looking at food?

At closer examination, my extra holiday weight probably occurred from the once a day trip to Starbucks for an egg nog latte and the extra Holiday luncheons and dinner parties that are not routine between the months of January and October. It just seems so subtle…and fun!

Now we are back to January and I am reminded that my body is a gift I need to care for. It is the home where the Holy Spirit has taken up residence. I am blessed to have good health and challenged to keep it that way.

For me eating healthy is “eating clean”. These words always scare my family because they know that means, no dairy, no bread, no pasta, no coffee, and no sugar. To them, that equals NO TASTE! But this year, I vowed to do something different. I vowed to learn to cook clean eating menus that would WOW my family.

I am happy to say that many recipes DO use yogurt and goat cheese. I am not sure why goats are considered clean. Do they shower? And cutting out coffee? Sorry, just not happening. In my mind, coffee fits into clean eating because coffee beans grow on a bush and if you break it down to its roots…coffee is really a fruit (kinda). But I did cut out the milk and the vanilla creamer…sigh.

The first dinner I cooked got rave reviews. My husband said it could be served in a restaurant! (See picture below.) Something I noticed about clean eating is that the presentation is beautiful, colorful, and full of life. Not like my favorite foods of cheese and bread that all blend together on a plate.


If you are interested in trying clean eating, here is a website that gives you a two week menu plan with recipes, pictures and a shopping list.

Here is to clean eating and good health in the New Year! I am cheering for you!

Talk Tuesday…A Series on Balance (Blog 4 – Balancing the Boat)

Talk Tuesday logo 2

Every Tuesday we engage in one big question, topic or idea. You are invited to write in with a suggestion you want to share. I surely do not have all the answers but know that together we can generate some great conversation and have fun in the process. (Feel free to post your topics, questions, and your great thoughts in the comments below!) Together, we will stay informed and equipped about topics that matter!

Today’s Blog Contributor: 

Katie Rogers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy name is Katie Rogers. I live in Forks, Washington and currently work at Forks Hospital. I’m currently working on being credentialed through the Assemblies of God. I co-teach a Sunday school class and lead Women’s Bible study. I also serve on the Women’s Team for the Northwest Ministry Network as Leader for the Olympic Area.



Balancing the Boat

Do you ever find yourself feeling tossed to and fro? Do you have so much on your plate that you feel like you are drowning in the ocean of life? I think this happens to be the case with each of us at one point or another. No one is left out. We constantly hear the word balance tossed around and we are always trying to apply this reality in our lives.

With everything in our lives we need balance, no area is exempt. So what are some areas and ways we can apply this?


We are mothers, sisters, friends, and someone’s child amongst many other things. With each of the roles we choose or are applied to our lives carry a weight, a possible burden. We can take these on and we allow them to consume us sapping the life right out of us or we can hand them to God.

Picture that you are in a boat in the middle of a lake. The water is rough and the boat is rocking. When we take on burdens we attempt to stand up in the boat, take control. This leads us to rock the boat even more than it already is. Yet when we give it to God and stay seated He calms the storm. He takes our burdens. We bring balance to our lives when we put every burden into God’s hands, letting Him calm the boat.


We also see imbalance in our time commitments. So what truly needs to happen in our day? I find I require quality time with the Lord first thing in the morning. Some days I get a solid block of time other days just a few minutes. I fill this with prayer, a devotional when I have one or with the Bible. This starts my day right and prepares me for the rest of my day.

How are you prioritizing your day? Are you listening to the Holy Spirit’s promptings?


I need fellowship. You need fellowship. This comes in many forms – work, at church and friend therapy through exercise, small group, etc. I really believe my friend therapy helps me take care of myself. This companionship helps ward off depression, boosts my self-esteem and is a great support when I need it. Are you connecting with Christians who uplift you, encourage you and motivate you in spiritual matters, physical activity and daily life?

Being Active

We have a great group of ladies at Forks Assembly of God that are active and we all help each other with encouragement and support. We not only have fellowship but we push each other in our fitness goals, spiritual endeavors and in our personal lives.

We start our day with Jesus. We connect with Him and start our day out right. We spend time with our families and take care of those within our household and that leaves us with the need to be physically active. Take time for a walk, cross training or getting in a game of basketball with a group of ladies. This gives you opportunity for spiritual, emotional and physical support.


We are all busy, multitasking at its best. Do we really need to do it all? In the process are we doing enough? Is it good for us to be spread so thin? Absolutely not! Our time is spread between time with Jesus, family, friends, work, and physical pursuits. So where do we start? Start with Jesus. That time with Him each day impacts us greatly. Next we must give priority to our families, focus on the people within our four walls. This leaves us to add in the other aspects of life after we’ve taken care of our daily time with Christ and our family.

That leaves us to truly invest in the moments we are given. If we are with family or friends are we giving them all of us? Or are we texting someone else while giving only part of us to those right in front of us. We must focus on one thing at a time, giving it our all. Be present, be mindful.

As we learn what’s important to us and we give each place in our lives the proper priority we learn to balance it all. We keep the boat steady and the waters calm.

A Heart Shaped Raindrop for You…

This morning I vowed to get organized. I am famous for writing reminders, blog ideas, or parts of speaking scripts on anything that is in front of me. It might be the computer, but it might also be a napkin, the back of a receipt, or my hand.  I told my husband, Mark, “Today is the day! I am going to create a journal for each category of work, so I don’t lose my ideas and reminders. A journal for coaching, one for speaking, one for writing, and one for daily work.” Mark did not see how this would be simpler but I was determined to prove that different methods work for different people.

After church I surveyed all my stack of journals selecting which would be the best for each category. One with the title, “Nothing can stop God’s plan for your life” already had coaching notes in it. That became my coaching journal. The next one I opened (one of my favorites) was personalized with my name in each verse at the bottom of each page – a gifts from dear missionary friends . When I opened up the journal, a letter fell out. My heart stopped when I saw the signature at the bottom that read:


It is funny, I knew the signature by the picture of the tiny heart, before I even read the name. Heart was so much a part of who Carmen was.

One year ago, my friend Carmen passed away from cancer after a 5 year battle. Carmen did not lose the battle. She won! Carmen won by the way she loved, by the way she shared her faith, and by the way she never gave up. Those things will forever live on in the lives of those she loved and inspired.

Life – what else could be so simple yet so complex, so matched with times of sorrow, joy, and beauty?

For all my friends who are in a season where the struggles you face seem endless, this blog is for you. Be encouraged today. I am confident that God has put Carmen in charge of dropping heart shaped raindrops on your windshield.

Don’t miss it!

Carmen Duppenthaler - age 45 Jan 21, 2014RE-POST of my blog written for Carmen in January of 2014

There are some days I wish would never come. Like the day we lost a friend, a daughter, a mom, a sister… These days leave me with many questions. Like a child, I ask why over and over again. God always answers the same way.

He answers in love.

He answers in mercy and grace.

He answers in the gift of community.

He answers in comfort and healing.

He answers by capturing our tears and holding our hearts gently in His strong hands.

He answers with the promise of an eternal life shared with Him and the ones we love that have gone before us.

On the day that Carmen passed away, the scripture that began our family devotional read: “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39.

Today, we will come together not as mourners but as rejoicers to celebrate a life shared, a life lived, and a life eternal. We will remember that God is for us and His love is with us – just as Carmen did.

Heart Shaped Raindropheart raindrop - Carmen Duppenthaler
Written by Carmen Duppenthaler
June 21, 2013

I could not wait to get home and share this amazing phenomenon with everyone!

Early this morning, Jeff and I drove to Swedish Issaquah for my PET Scan. As we were driving over Squak Mountain, a large raindrop hit the windshield and took the shape of a heart. It was directly in my line of sight, so I couldn’t miss it. I said to Jeff, “look someone is sending me love”. I quickly reached for my phone to snap a photo before it washed away. Amazingly, it stayed long enough for me to capture it. The timing of this raindrop could not be more perfect.

This past week I have felt very alone and have questioned my faith. After finding a lump on my lower back near my spine, I got angry with God and told Him so. I got scared and let my mind wander to dark territory I usually avoid.

I believe someone sent me this heart shaped raindrop to tell me that I am not alone. It was a gentle reminder to keep the faith and keep believing. I feel completely rejuvenated and have new found hope. This raindrop of love changed my outlook. Thank you to the kind spirit who sent it to me.

Today’s scan went well. I even did the scan without anti-anxiety medication. I felt a rare sense of calmness and somehow knew I didn’t need it. I see Dr. Wahl on Tuesday June 25th for my results. Until then, I will keep visualizing the heart shaped raindrop ♥

♥ Carmen

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