Your Gratitude Story

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Deliberate Design (Purposeful Living and Pursuits), The Blog | 4 comments

Reblogged from 2013

I’m a journalist and the first thing they teach you in J school is the “5 Ws.” Always make sure that the following questions are answered when you’re covering a story:

If you’re struggling with an attitude of gratitude this Thanksgiving, try applying this to your own story. Grab a pen or keyboard and get started answering these questions-

1. Who are you grateful for? Your list may be as long as you arm or only have two names, but if you ponder for a moment surely some people (past and present) come to mind. Perhaps it was your grandmother when you were a child; maybe a teacher who believed in you; a special friend who stood by your side when you were hurting; a spouse or child who loves you no matter what…

2. What are you grateful for? This might be the hardest one if you’re in physical or emotional pain, can’t make ends meet or are seriously ill, but take a moment to get past that struggle to think of how much worse it could be. Do you have a bed? Have you eaten today? I know it sounds trite, like your mom reminding you that there are starving kids in Africa, but it is a good way to gain perspective.

3. When are you grateful? A time frame in your life (childhood, a job you loved, etc.) or even a really wonderful day when something just blessed your socks off. This is an important and valid way to remind us of the good things.

4. Where are you grateful? Consider a place where you made the best memories. Focus on that place (use your senses: remember the smells, sounds, sights and textures) to revive those sweet memories. I bet you find yourself smiling.

5. Why are you grateful? Does your thankfulness center on material things, relationships, health, or success in ministry and work? The reasons and focal point of your gratitude will reveal much about your priorities. Maybe there needs to be a shift?

There is an added letter journalists factor in when appropriate; H. How?

How do you show gratitude? Do you remember to thank the clerk at Circle K and your server at McDonald’s? Do you acknowledge the hard work your spouse invests in their job or home? Do you tell your employer that you’re grateful for the paycheck? And most importantly, do you tell God how thankful you are for the countless ways He has blessed you?

I am grateful for the people who put up with me, especially you. Anything you want to say to me? :) Happy Thanksgiving.

Total Shares 47
Read More

Be Who You Are

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 in Deliberate Design (Purposeful Living and Pursuits), The Blog | 0 comments

We’ve all done it… try on jeans or something that’s a little snug and suck in your gut while you check the mirror. You think, uh huh. I look pretty good. Then you walk away from the mirror and relax your trembling abs. You’re shocked later when you see pics of yourself at the party in those jeans. How could I have looked so different at home, you wonder.

You looked different at home because you were creating an illusion of being thinner than you really are… flattening a bulging belly temporarily. But when you relax, the true you is what people see.

The same thing goes for your character and faith journey.

I’ve known many people who say all the right words and appear to be doing the right things, but later I find out they were creating a false impression.

This happened on a trip we took with some friends. Promises were made about the experience and the cost that simply didn’t match up with what happened. I think that when we feel disillusioned by a friend’s behavior it hurts those who trust the most. Like me.

I consider myself to be fairly savvy and intuitive, but because I would never intentionally lie or make promises I didn’t intend to keep, it’s pretty hard for me to believe others will. When they do, I’m left with my mouth gaping open and my heart a little dented.

Certainly I’m not going to say I’ve never let people down or tried to put on a bit of a show to create a better impression. Most of us do it from time-to-time. (My husband is an exception to this!) Sometimes I want people to like me or think highly of me so I go to extra effort to assist the outcome and position myself in the best light.

The problem is, I’m not always in good lighting. I’m not always in a sweet mood. I’m not always praying passionately. I’m not always charitable and serving selflessly. And in the light of day, all this is revealed.

Be who you are and ask God to work in your life to constantly make that better… closer to what you want people to see.

As for those skinny jeans- wear them if you want to, but look in the mirror while you are completely relaxed and know that’s what others will be seeing too. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ll fool anyone.

Total Shares 57
Read More


Posted by on Nov 9, 2015 in The Blog | 1 comment

This guest post by author and friend Rhonda Stoppe is longer than most we share here… but worth every second you take to read it. My husband and I counseled couples before marriage, as Rhonda and Steve do. The insights she shares aren’t just for young lovers or newlyweds. This stuff is pure gold for any stage of relationship health. I know you’ll want to click share on this one! Check it out and post a comment to win her new book If My Husband Would Change, I’d be Happy.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 


By Rhonda Stoppe

Anyone can fall in love. It’s staying in love that we long for.

Groovy Kind’a Love is “our song”. Last week my husband and I celebrated our 34th anniversary!

Over the years we have worked to keep our love sweet and “groovy” as an old song poetically defined it. I can honestly say our love is deeper and more passionate today than ever! How is this possible?

I am so glad you asked!

In over 30 years of ministry my husband, Steve and I have had the privilege of taking numerous couples through 6 weeks of pre-marital counseling. My favorite week is called “Staying in Love”. This is the nuts-and-bolts of how to live the happily-ever-after life we all hope for.

Here are some basics you can apply to your marriage:

–IT’S ALL IN YOUR MIND. Falling in love occurs because we choose to think about all of the wonderful characteristics and attributes of our love. Once we marry, and “seal the deal” so-to-speak, it’s human nature to take for granted the love of the one we had worked so hard to win over.

The KEY to staying in love is making a DELIBERATE choice to think on what is “good, right, and excellent” about your spouse (see Philippians 4:8-9).

This means you MUST take control of those crazy thoughts that assign wrong motives to your spouses’ actions, and CHOOSE to believe the BEST about them (see 2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Corinthians 13:7).

-FORGIVE. Does forgiveness characterize your relationship? You MUST decide you are going to be one who forgives. I know, I know, you want to say, “you don’t know what you are asking me to forgive”. But I am telling you, if you do not regularly practice forgiveness in your relationship, a root of bitterness will sprout in your heart that the Bible says will defile many-namely your children (Hebrews 12:15)!

Have you ever been out with people who have a root of bitterness toward one another? It’s excruciating to spend time with them, isn’t it?

Jesus says, “Out of the abundance of your mouth your heart speaks” if you are harboring bitterness, I guarantee it will spill out in your conversation (Matthew 12:34). If your relationship wreaks of bitterness, your children – and others – will not be drawn to you but will actually learn to avoid or endure you. (Ouch, that comment hurts, huh?)

-LOVE. Above all CHOOSE TO LOVE. Husbands are to love their wives and live with them according to knowledge (1 Peter 3:7). Ladies, they will never figure out what’s going on in that head of yours. Let’s be honest-often we aren’t even sure of why we are feeling what we feel.

If you do not mercifully and kindly help your husband to understand what speaks love to you, he is never going to figure it out! So, no more of this, If you loved me you’d understand me cop out.

What speaks love to your husband? The way you speak love to your husband is to respect him. What does that mean? It means:

  • you don’t talk to him like you are his mother.
  • you choose to speak to him in a way that honors him (you know, the way you talked to him when you were trying to win him as your love).
  • put on Love:

And above all these put on love,

which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Above all, keep loving one another EARNESTLY,

since love covers a multitude of sins (See Colossians 3:14; 1 Peter 4:8).


-YOUR MARRIAGE IS A LIGHT. Jesus said, By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John13:35).

Your genuine love for each other will be a light that tells your children – and a watching world, knowing the Savior makes a difference in your life. Letting this light shine does not happen by accident. In fact, if you rely on your feelings you will certainly miss the opportunity to shine Christ’s light.

When life is hard, when you are hormonal, when the bills pile up, and the kids are sick…this is when the light of your love shines the brightest! Jesus said, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Won’t you determine to STAY IN LOVE?

Your children will be most secure when they know their parents are in love.

Thirty-four years ago Steve Stoppe and I determined to be one of those couples who would fall more in love with each other each passing year. For us, having a “groovy-kind-of-love” means to love each other with the Love the Lord has put in our hearts through our relationship with Christ. And this is the same resource God gives to anyone who would surrender to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The watching world is longing to believe in HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER.

Your love gives them hope!

For insights to a NO REGRETS MARRIAGE read Rhonda Stoppe’s new book:

IF MY HUSBAND WOULD CHANGE I’D BE HAPPY-And Other Myths Wives Believe (Harvest House 2015)


Total Shares 71
Read More

Surprises are for Suckers

Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in BOLD BELIEVER | Christian Living, The Blog | 1 comment

“Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.” Jane Austen

My first grade birthday celebration was a surprise party. Who does that to their kid? In my case, a 19-year-old mom who didn’t know better and had always longed to be given a surprise party. I can still remember answering the door as a group of guests from school arrived together and yelled SURPRISE! It was not a fun day.

I hate surprise parties, certainly for myself. I’ve hosted more than a few. My husband’s 40th was epic as a large group of friends converged at a beach house in San Diego. I’m still not sure how I pulled that off. He loved it and had a terrific time. I loved it because I was in control of all the details.

Life is one big surprise party. Each day we wake up thinking we know what is in store…shower, traffic, work, lunch with a friend, traffic, dinner, Grey’s Anatomy and bed.

But then comes the plot twist- the surprise. A call from your mom, she has something to tell you about her doctor visit; the car that smashes into you while you sip your coffee at the red light; the stock you invested heavily in just took a nose-dive. Your youngest child waves goodbye as he boards the bus for kindergarten (how did that sneak up on you?). Perhaps your 26-year-old shows up with suitcases and divorce papers.

The day you had planned just unraveled because of a surprise. If you’re like me, you don’t like having to scramble to recapture order and control. Predictable is peaceful.

God says we should simply expect the unexpected and trust His power in us to keep moving, surviving and doing what we were called to do. Surprises are for suckers.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I wait expectantly for what little (or massive) shake-ups may be in store for me as I get out of bed. Oh, I still think through my day and hope it ends with my projected outcome, but I don’t bank on it.

Right now I find myself in an unexpected lull. For a woman who has battled busyness her entire life, this is surprising and a bit unnerving. Why do I have so much open space on my calendar? Only the Lord knows.

I can’t prepare for what may come because God is planning this surprise party and covering all the details. My job is to let the surprise come when it will and see how God will take me through it and use it to bless my life…without fighting for control or fearing how it will end.

Do you like surprises? How about surprise parties? What was your last big surprise (good or bad)? How do you handle surprises? I hope you’ll take a second to comment so others can be enriched.




Total Shares 56
Read More

A Gentle Shove

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in FRIENDSHIP Done Well, The Blog | 2 comments

Anyone who has been a licensed driver longer than a year or two has probably encountered the unpleasant experience of getting your vehicle stuck. Whether it’s in mud, sand or snow, getting stuck is hugely lacking in the fun department.

I live in Phoenix so what do I know about getting stuck? True. We don’t have snow, sand or muddy roads to contend with but I attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and spent plenty of time with my car wedged in a snow drift. Who knew? Thankfully there were plenty of college boys on the road to pull me out.

My husband has a great big sand rail. This is no toy. It has large tires and massive shocks and a powerful Corvette engine. We take it to the Imperial Sand Dunes near Yuma. You wouldn’t think a machine with that much oomph could get stuck, but it happens. That’s why we never go out alone, but in groups (with long ropes.)

When we were in high school my boyfriend borrowed his dad’s (now my father-in-law) little sand buggy and we took it for a spin down a beach in Mexico. We were with another couple and stopped to play in the water for a few minutes. Suddenly we noticed the tide was rushing in and soon the car would be submerged. (Only one of the idiotic things we did in our teens.) We flagged down some locals in a big old truck to come and haul us out. If not for them I may have been a widow before I was married and my father-in-law would be in jail for murdering his kid.

The point of all this rambling down memory lane is that we all get stuck sometimes in life. Relationships, career, finances, depression… all can suck us into a hole that seems impossible to get out of. Most often we can’t get moving without help. Someone to give a gentle shove, pull us along or offer a hard kick in the pants.

If you’re not making any forward progress right now, you may have to reach out to a friend to help get you going again.

The world is full of stuck souls, so be on the lookout for opportunities to give a gentle shove.


Total Shares 91
Read More

Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster From Full House to Empty Nest

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in PARENTING | Never Ending Story, The Blog | 0 comments

This post by author (and my friend) Michele Howe caught me off-guard. I’ve only experienced a short empty nest season of “too much quiet.” But… I know it’s coming again and I know I will experience the same emotions she describes. Have you been there or thought about what it will be like? Read and see what you think. Comment to win a copy of Michele’s latest book- Empty Nest, What’s Next? Parenting Adult Children without Losing Your Mind. It offers terrific tips for the transition to parenting adult children.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 

Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster From Full House to Empty Nest

by Michele Howe

“You have set my feet in a spacious place.” Psalm 31: 8

“We need to fight coolness with every fiber of our being. I want to stop admiring the cool, the detached people. I want to hug the messy, conflicted, honest, passionate people who are living their lives with enthusiasm.”

Debbie Macomber

I’m convinced that one of the most telling ways to figure out what’s going on in your life is to take a good look at your meal planning routine. It took me quite a while to get it through my brain that I didn’t really need as much food on our dinner table each evening after our kids moved out. At first, it felt strange paring back or halving every recipe. Unnatural even.

Finally, I got used to the fact that our children weren’t dropping in to eat, staying for supper, or surprising us with a bunch of unexpected hungry friends. Even this small adjustment made my heart sting at times. Like lots of women, I love to cook and feed those I care about. The kitchen, be it large or small, is the natural gathering place in most homes. I sincerely believe it’s the fragrant smells, the sight of something delicious simmering on the stove, and the small talk that goes on while the meal is being prepared that just draws folks to this center place and keeps them there long after the meal has been consumed.

So when the happy and full kitchen becomes rather quiet and lonely…emotions can take similar directions. While I am not complaining about having to cook less (in amounts or frequency)…I now understand how these days being more subdued, slower-paced, and definitely quieter, can trigger some emotional sadness. During those hours of the day that used to be frantically filled with food preps, laundry, playing chauffeur, teacher, doctor, counselor and more…I find the quietness of moment somewhat unsettling. Or I did.

After listening to myself talk to myself about feeling low and out of sorts one silent afternoon…I started listening in earnest to a speaker sharing about living in the moment. We’ve all heard these pick-me-up talks where the person who’s speaking gets pretty convincing about the wisdom of living in the now for several important reasons. One; it’s all we’ve got. Two; we miss so much good when we’re pining away for our yesterdays (or tomorrows). Three; Jesus told us to live today and not worry about tomorrow because He has given us everything we need for just today. Bingo!

Oddly enough, it was the aloneness that finally got me to listen to what God had been telling me all along. Sure, I was at a crossroads…but even the most positive, promising changes bring a certain tension and some associated stress…because whether we admit it or not…we are creatures of habit. Habit comforts us. Habit makes it easier to plan our days without too much over-thinking. Habits, over time, mold us and make us who we are.So, I decided that while my habits had to change, my emotions would eventually catch up with my new choices. In all truth, I still experience the occasional surges of sadness that our house is empty now. But most of the time, I’m too busy living in the moment and appreciating it for all that it’s worth.

*     *     *

Living in the moment isn’t an optional choice we get to make in this life if we call ourselves Christians. It’s a truly biblical mandate that Jesus instructs His followers to obey and take seriously. When we allow our thoughts to linger in the happy past (remember that we often forget the trying challenges of that “happy” past) we forfeit all the joys surrounding us today. When we continue to dream about the future (a future that hasn’t been promised to any of us) we neglect the beauty of this day, this hour, this very minute. Growing up and maturing means stepping out of the chaos of life long each day to reflect upon what we’ve learned along the way. It also means staying silent long enough for God to talk to us afresh, to direct (and redirect) our steps, and to infuse us with the desires He wants to fulfill in and through us.

Quietness might not be what we’re used to after such long seasons of rearing children, but it might very well be the best thing for us. Sitting in His presence, waiting on God to nudge us, means we are confident that He has some wonderful plans for us that will get our passions ignited and stirred in all the right ways. Certainly, as He has done all through the years, God has and always will set our feet in a spacious place. And that’s His happy promise to us.

Total Shares 101
Read More

Character Close-up

Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in BOLD BELIEVER | Christian Living, The Blog | 0 comments

The lights in the dressing room are about as flattering as your hair on a rainy day. Most women really, really, really don’t like trying on clothes and peering into those harshly lit three-way mirrors. Who wants to see that much reality? I’d prefer a small hand mirror in a dim room!

When was the last time you took a close look at yourself? It’s not very fun. I have a friend who said that if most plastic surgeons would hand out magnified mirrors with their cards attached, they’d never go out of business.

Self-esteem is a topic for another day.

Now I’d just like to invite you to strip down to your spiritual and character birthday suits and take a sun-filled gander at what you see.

Do you see someone you admire and trust or someone who could use some work? I can tell you I’m always in need of improvement. My biggest spiritual flaw is lack of faith when it comes to the tough stuff. I’m lousy at “letting go and letting God.” (I always hated that bumper sticker!)

When I do a spiritual inventory, I’m always short in this area. What I’ve come to realize is that my limited supply of faith often correlates to my short investment in time spent quietly with God. No “work” or striving is necessary for most of us to improve our mirror image, just step away from the distractions and step into His throne room more frequently.

As I reluctantly peruse my character close-up, the list of “issues” is far longer. I would say impatience tops it off. God uses the strangest things to help me practice and improve in this area. Traffic, non-English speaking tech supporters, door-to-door salesmen and long lines at the grocery store are ideal training grounds.

I hope you are brave and bold enough to turn the LED lights on high and bare your soul to see the true you on a regular basis. It’s easy to let ourselves be fooled into thinking everything looks pretty good at a glance.

What spiritual or character imperfections does the Lord want you to work on?


Total Shares 60
Read More

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required Email Address * First Name Last Name