“Even Though I Walk Through the Valley…”

Wow….it has been awhile since I have been in blogger-ville.  No worries…I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth.  Still here!  It has been a crazy month or so with work, normal-everyday life and some trips out-of-town for us.

I am picking back up with the phrases from the 23rd Psalm.  We are looking at “Even Though I Walk Through the Valley…”  You may be wondering what a phrase like this has to do with sheep but there is a very interesting connection.  As we have said that the whole Psalm tracks the entire year-long season of care between sheep and shepherd.  When we come to this phrase we are looking at the halfway point in the year.  One could imagine that the previous phrases were made by the sheep to other less fortunate sheep in the pen next door but with this phrase we make a dramatic turn.  Spring has sprung and the efficient, good Shepherd leads his sheep out to the high country to the summer ranges. Their summer and fall will be spent in close companionship and solitary care of the good shepherd.  The personal pronouns I and You enter the conversation.  It becomes a most intimate discourse of deep affection.

The terrain that would be crossed would be wild mountains, rushing rivers, alpine meadows, and high rangelands.  When Samuel came to anoint David as the next King of Israel David was not home but off climbing the summer ranges leading his sheep.  He knew from first hand experience about all the difficulties and dangers, as well as the delights, of the treks into the high country.  The good shepherd would not take his flock where he had never been but would have gone ahead to look over the country with care (Oh, the sweet care that our Heavenly Father, the good shepherd, takes with us as well).  All the dangers of rampaging rivers in flood, avalanches, rock slides, poisonous plants, the ravages of predators that raid the flock, or the awesome storms of sleet and hail and snow were familiar to him.  He had handled his sheep and managed them with care under all these adverse conditions.  Nothing took him by surprise.  He was fully prepared to safeguard his flock and tend them with skill under every circumstance. 

Just as I was typing that last sentence and reflecting on how good our heavenly Father takes care of us, I suddenly had my stomach “drop out on the floor” so to speak.  I remembered that last night on the way home from the office I realized that I needed gas bad!  I was on a “wing and a prayer” so to speak.  I had already passed all the gas stations and was just a few miles from home and so I prayed all the way home setting in my mind that I would go first thing this morning to get gas.  Well, I forgot to get gas and came straight on to the office.  Out of the clear blue I remember that I did not stop on the way in this morning so I really am on fumes now!  Thankfully, I believe it was the Lord that reminded me and isn’t that just awesome that He takes care of us even in our ignorance!  Lord, we really are like sheep and we need You to be our good Shepherd!

I’ll finish up this portion of the phrase next week!  So stay tuned!


My Secure Source

This week I have fought some discouragement.  I know we are going to face it but I was not prepared for it and really was not focused on it until my husband started asking me some questions about it.  All the sudden it became my complete focus.  It started to monopolize  the rest of my week.  I knew that first off I needed to get some time alone and figure out what I was believing about myself in the midst of the situation.  Upon doing that God had another divine appointment for me.  At the last minute Tony and I ended up going to lunch with a friend of ours on Thursday that is also in ministry.  I did not say a whole lot about my discouragement until briefly mentioning it at the end of our time together.  He asked me a very good “Why” questions that really got me to thinking and based on my response it revealed to me what I was looking to for security.  God began to confirm in my spirit what I had been sensing Him to be saying the last several weeks to me.  What I need is Him – time with Him – focusing on Him – being with Him – Abiding in Him – Depending on Him.  That is the message of what we teach here is that we are to “exchange our life for Christ’s life, our strength for His strength”.  I am to seek to remember Christ is my life!

Psalm 62:1-2 “My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” NASB

vs. 5-8 “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.  On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” NASB

Psalm 63:1 “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.  My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.  Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you!  I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.  You satisfy me more than the richest of foods.  I will praise you with songs of joy.” NLT

vs. 8  “I follow close behind you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” NLT

Lamentations 3:21-26 “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.  ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.”  The LORD is good to those who wait fro Him, To the person who seeks Him.  It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD.” NASB


Favorite Quotes

Here are two of my favorite quotes.  I keep these on an index card in my Bible.  They are by Bruce Wilkenson in his study “Secrets of The Vine”.

1.  “Our lives can be ‘full’ only when we surrender our whole life to Christs’ will and purpose.”

2.  “Only in Christ can a man or women become an instrument of impressive, unquestionable might, yet remain a vessel of humility, an object of grace.  You see, a person full of the Holy Spririt can not be full of self.  Pride never accompanies power in a fully yeilded life.”

Ponder these thoughts today and let me know your thoughts.


Lessons Learned On The Journey To 26.2

Well, I may be sharing a good many of these because everytime I tell someone about the marathon and what I am writting about they help me come up with more lessons!  Anyway….this is one I thought of on my own….acutally, the Holy Spirit had to have revealed this one! 

As I mentioned in my post describing what all happened during the marathon I mentioned about our new friend Sally who ran the half marathon coming to the mile marker 21 or 22 post to cheer us on.  As she ran out to meet me she ran along side me and encouraged me and offered to carry anything for me.  Well, because I kept forgetting to give my shirt and nasty, sweaty, smelly socks to Tony at mile number 11 and then again at mile 19 I was still carrying them.  As Sally ask me I immediately gave her my shirt and socks to carry!  Now….you have to understand, the heat was intense so the shirt was soaked with sweat and the socks were, well…..completely NASTY and she carried them for me.  Later that evening when my senses came back to me I realized what I had done and I was horrified that I had asked this person whom I had just met to do such a thing for me!  She obviously offered and did not mind at all.  Actually, the spirit with which she responded was that she was happy to do it!  Imagine that….someone happy about hanging on to my smelly shirt and socks!  As I thought about this I was reminded of one word….SERVANTHOOD!  Her attitude was that of Christ Jesus’ attitude as referenced in Philippians 2.  Check out these verses:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but with humnility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himslef by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Phil. 2:3-8

Wow….now that is a servant!  What is your attitude like when it comes to servanthood?

A Radical New Idea for NLD

Hello Everyone,

I know it has been some time since we have posted a blog.  There has been much going on around here along with the normal means of business and ministry for the last several weeks and we appreciate your patience.  For those of you that have not heard, Tony’s (my husband) Grandfather did pass away and we were out of town for the funeral and have since been trying to get caught back up.  Rebecca has been on vacation this week enjoying the beaches of Florida in between hurricanes.  We will see what kind of savage tan she comes back with!  Tony and I have been holding down the fort and it has only been Christ through us that we have survived!! 

Let me share with you a new opportunity that it appears that Father is giving us.  It has been our hearts desire and prayer from the beginning of NLD (New Life Design) that we not do ministry events just because every other ministry similar to ours does that event.  We want to be uniquely who God desires NLD to be.  We have been asked, “Are you going to do one of those Grace Life Conferences?”  Well, we would like to but it just hasn’t been time yet.  There have been several other ideas we have “kicked around” and yet, Father just hasn’t given us a peace about them.  But one thing that we have begun to see emerge over the last month is this idea to provide an authentic, small group Bible study for our clients, former clients and friends.  There was a series of really strange events that began happening to confirm this really radical idea that Rebecca and I had been tossing around off and on for most of the summer.  One of these events that started happening was that several of our clients started to meet each other.  Obviously, we operate under a code of confidentiality and I tell our clients that no one will ever know you are going through our coaching process unless you tell them because we can not.  It just so happens that several of our clients go to the same church in the area and through a series of random events one couple came in for their session announcing that they had meet this other couple.  Well, you can image my surprise.  They ended up sharing a meal together and really making a connection and sharing about what they are learning in the process and how Father is changing their lives.  So much of what the couples said was exactly what Rebecca and I had talked about providing through a small group.  This was just one of the things that Father used to confirm this idea with us.

Another thought that had continued to emerge in me was this complete paradigm shift in thinking about church, small groups etc….  My heart has always been about being relational verses being involved in Religion.  But recently, I have really gotten a better grasp at what being relational actually means.  It doesn’t mean that you attend a small group or Sunday school class with your church; It is so much more than that.  The relational part starts with being relational with Father – receiving, embracing and walking in the reality of Father’s affection for us.  When that is happening on a moment by moment basis in our daily lives we begin to know more of what it means to love others.  We have to experience being well loved by Father first before we can love others well.  As we are walking in Father’s affection we become convinced of our identity, acceptance, purpose and are so satisfied and fulfilled with Father and His work in our lives.  At that point, His perfect love drives out our fear of being rejected and left alone so we can, in a healthy way, risk being open with one another and loving each other.  I have sinced that this is to be a key characteristic of NLD and a key point that we are to teach our clients.

So, with that said we are looking forward to beginning a small group Bible study through the ministry of NLD on Tuesday, October 7 at 6:30pm.  We will be meeting here at our offices every OTHER week and the Study we will be going through is called the Grace Walk Experience, a 9 week study writen by Steve McVey.  This group is open to any of our current clients, former clients, their spouses and friends of NLD.  If you would like to be apart of this group please call Rebecca or myself or email us to get your name on the list.  It is a “first come, first serve” basis as we can only take 12 members at a time. 

We desire this group to grow into a place of being real and authentic with each other.  No masks allowed here!  The uniqueness of a group like this is that if you are going through the coaching experience or have gone through it you know that you have no reason to impress, put on aires, feel the need to conform, please or act like you have it all together.  The process that we take people through is for every Christian – but the unfortunate, yet maybe the fortortunate thing is that you don’t pick up the phone to call someone like me and commit to this process unless you have found yourself at the bottom of the barrell.  Lessons learned at the “Bottom of the Barrell” prove to be grace centered and forever life altering.  One of these days I am going to write up a teaching series entitled “Lessons Learned @ The Bottom of The Barrell”  Humility becomes a huge focus in those lessons that we learn and that coupled with embracing your identity in Christ just seems to disarm the need to put up a good front or implore a “keep up your image” philosophy.  Therefore, my hope is that in this group as we genuinely connect with each other, hearing each others stories and studying God’s Truth we will become real and authentic with each other.  I think it is at this point where Christ as our very life will then flow out of us and spill out all over each other bringing sweet healing to our wounds.  Yes, no man is an island and we do need each other on this journey.  Come experience a “New Design for Living” with us here at NLD.


Happy 1 Year Anniversary New Life Design

Hello everyone,

We are an excited bunch around here today.  This month is the official 1 year anniversary of New Life Design.  We can’t believe that it has been a whole year since we “set up shop” and “hung out our shingle” as we say.  We are indeed grateful for all that Father has done over the past year.  The step of faith was so worth it!!

As I reflect back on this faith journey so far, I am reminded of the verses in Hebrews 11 that I spent much time pouring over before we announced the plans for NLD.  This chapter journals the experiences of many saints who lived by faith and brought honor to the kingdom of God.  One part in particular beckons my attention day after day and that is verses 13-16.  Let me share them with you….

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.  And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”

These people were controlled and sustained by their faith.  Even though they had not seen with their own eyes the fulfillment of the promise before they died, they kept their focus on God who sustained and controlled them.  Scripture is very quick to say that they did not focus on what they had left behind but on what was ahead of them and the call of God “to go”.  I am intrigued by the part of verse 15 that says that if they had been thinking of what they left behind they would have had opportunity to return.  But to return would have been disobedience.  In the Amplified Bible verse 15 says, “…they would have found constant opportunity to return to it.”

I am finding that with this faith jouney our key lies in where we set our minds!  Where is our daily focus?  What is our attitude each day?  Regardless of whether you are in the midst of a huge faith step, battling with your own fleshly ways, or just desiring to live a victorious Christian life – the key is focusing our minds.  Another verse in the next chapter of Hebrews helps us with this.  Chapter 12:1b-2a says, “…let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…”  Our victory is not found in striving, laboring, toiling, and working.  No!  It is found in fixing our eyes on Jesus!  Period….end of sentence.  Just as you don’t work, labor or strive to put away all those fleshly behaviors, you don’t work, labor or strive to get more faith either.  The answer is found in placing our focus on our Father and who He is and who we are in Him.  Victory over the flesh will come and you will see greater faith than you could have imagined bubbling up inside of you as you fix your focus – set your mind on Father.  We received our salvation by faith as we looked to Jesus so what makes us think we will receive victory in these other areas any other way? 

For these characters in Hebrews 11, I find upon deeper study that their faith was promted, aroused and actuated.  It was not created, grown or develped.  Some of you may be familiar with 2 Peter 1:3 that says, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us (meaning He has already given it to us) everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”  He has already given us everything we need….all the faith, all the victory over sin, all the patience etc… that we need for daily living.  You have what you need within your spirit because you have Christ’s life in your spirit.  If we take responsibility for setting our mind, focusing our attention on Him each day, allowing Him to live His life out through us then we will never lack anything that we need for each day. 

So, we invite you to celebrate with us this huge mileston that Father has brought about and continue to set your mind, focus and attention on Him each day.  You will begin to see your faith aroused, promted and actuated!  You will indeed find victory over the flesh!  Experiencing Christ’s life as your source is an awesome adventure, and as we have found today, it leads you to milestones that you never thought possible!!


Our Faith Journey Pt. 4 – The Choice

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Faith Journey Blog.  Last time in part 3 we talked about the role of perseverance and faith.  Today we are looking at “The Choice”. 

You may be thinking, “what do you mean by “The Choice?”.  I am talking about the choice to turn back, to give up on walking by faith and go back.  There are some interesting verses in Hebrews 11:13-16.  Let me share them with you…

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.  And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” 

About a year ago I had the privilege of taking my ladies that attend our Wednesday Morning Bible Study through the study Patriarchs by Beth Moore.  In that study we took a very detailed look at Abraham’s (also known as Abram before God changed his name)calling to leave the land of Ur and travel to a land promised to him and his descendants.  Apparently, half way through that journey to Canaan, Abraham’s father Terah who was 205 years old died in Haran. (Genesis 11:32)  Abraham was right in the middle of stepping out in faith following God – not knowing where he was going and his own father dies.  We often experience trials like this in our journey of faith. 

I know for me personally, I can identify somewhat with Abraham.  Just after I graduated from college and moved to Texas to start Seminary my father passed away.  Here you are struggling to be obedient to God, taking a big step to follow Him not knowing where it will lead you and then tragedy strikes.  Many of us have been in similar shoes.  When this happened to me, I obviously had to return home to be with my mom and bury my father.  After things were settled, there came the question, “Are you going to continue to follow and trust God or sit here where it is comfortable?”  I could have called off going to Seminary and following God’s call on my life.  It would have been easy to do that because my first two months out there were not easy at all.  As a matter of fact, they were quite miserable.  It was my first taste of being away from home and on my own.  My job was tough, school was tough, my roommates were at each others throats constantly those two months, my car broke down three times and left me stranded on the side of the road (no cell phone-too broke to have one), I accidentally backed into someone – no damage thank goodness – all the while calling home only to find my father’s condition was deteriorating.  Mom and Dad both tried to hide that, but I knew in the back of my mind things would not get better.  After having such a tough experience to look back on, going back was not what I wanted to do.  I had a choice.  I even tried to pursue going to a different Seminary thinking that would be better, even closer to home.  Yet, I remember that day walking down the hallway that God spoke to my heart, “Dana, you have to go back.”  I knew that my calling depended on it. 

Likewise, Abraham could have turned back and gone home.  Back to the familiar – the comfort and ease of home, friends, stability etc…  Yet, he choose obedience.  He buried his father, helped his family and then God called out to him again.  Genesis 12:1-3 says that God called forth to Abraham again and reminded him of the promise that he would be a great nation with many descendants with a land of their own one day.  It is interasting that verse 1 says, “Now the LORD said to Abram…”  Look at that word “Now”.  I was As if to say, “Now, that is done and Abram, it is time to move forward.”  When we have these moments of interruption in our faith journey it does not mean that God can’t be trusted or that He has lost control.  I think the opposite is true.  He may be asking, “Are you still going to trust me “NOW” that this has happened?  Do you believe I can work even through this?  Do you love me enough to trust me despite your circumstances?”  Wow…big questions to ponder.  Well, the choice is yours and mine.  Are we going to press on and go where God leads or do we turn back.  One helpful hint here…according to Hebrews 11:13 if you are focusing on the comforts or things that you left, you will have opportunity to return.  My friend, if God has called you forward you can’t look back.  You can’t focus on what you left behind or you will stumble and fall as you are trying to move forward.  So, what do you say…let’s make a deal….you take my hand and we will keep moving forward together!


Our Faith Journey Pt. 3 – Perseverence

Hello everyone!  We hope that you are enjoying the New Life Design Blog!  We encourage you to let us know your thoughts by responding in the comment section.  If God spoke a word to you while reading, or if you have questions or comments about the ministry please let us know.

About this thing called perseverance….I am learning that perseverance is like a nice glove that slides perfectly on the hand of faith.  At the beginning of last April as I was pondering over the calling to begin New Life Design, I had a few unanswered questions. To be quite honest, some fear began creeping into my heart.  I knew my flesh felt uneasy about leaving what was familiar and the familiarity of a weekly pay check.  While reading in Hebrews 11 one day my eyes glanced up to the end of chapter 10 verses 35-39.  “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.  For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.  But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in Him.  But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”  As you know Chapter 11 then begins telling us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  We see there that Enoch obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.  The very next verse (vs.6) then says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  Obviously, that was all the confirmation that I needed to put to rest my doubts.

As we have “persevered in faith” Father has provided most graciously for New Life Design.  He has not let us down.  The phone even rang again today and we are continuing to add clients.  Thank goodness that God knows the pace at which to send them because if they came any faster Rebecca and I would really be taken for a loop – for those of you who know us, we know you are laughing right now and don’t worry, grace allows us to laugh at ourselves with you!

What has God called you to?  What dream has He planted deep within your heart and mind?  Are you afraid to follow the dream?  I know how you feel, but listen….if God is in it – if God is for it – who can be against it?  If God is in it and for it you must persevere!  Oh the joy we miss out on by not follow Christ in faith.  God bless you on your faith journey. 


Our Faith Jouney Pt. 2

Hello everyone!  Part 1 of Our Faith Journey is under “Grace Insights” incase you missed it.  We decided to add another category for our lessons on Faith. 

In part one we talked about getting in touch with God’s character, God’s purposes in our generation and God’s ways.  In order for us to not miss God and learn to hear from Him and follow Him in faith we must get a handle on His Character, His Purposes, and His ways.  The only way we can do this is by looking through God centered glasses.  Often we interpret our world through the natural lenses of our own self-made expectations and as we noted in part 1 and many times this is when we find ourselves angry and disappointed with God.

God centered glasses interpret our world from God’s perspective, purposes, desires and activity.  Many times God’s will is like an iceberg.  With an iceberg you can only see the top 10% and the other 90% can’t be seen.  The key to getting to the other 90% underneath is responding to what He has already shown you – the top 10%.  The time to respond to His will is the moment He reveals His will.  God desires immediate obedience.  If God has revealed the plan and has given you the green light He means for you and I to get busy!  Delayed obedience is disobedience!  Our delay may cause us to miss out on what God has planned for us to be apart of in that moment – the joy and excitment!!  If God has been clear – Trust Him – regardless of appearances! 

This orientation to God puts us in a position to walk with Him – hearing Him speak to us.  It also puts us in the place to experience joy unspeakable in our personal relationship with Him.  One morning this week in my Quiet Time I realized that one of the most amazing things about God is that He not only loves me – He ENJOYS me and even likes me!  He wants to talk and fellowship with us.  If you are not hearing from God it is not due to His lack of communication.  I am sure that the problem is on our end somewhere.  He has so much to say to each of us.  Let’s get busy listening.

Stay turned for Part 3 coming on Perseverance!

Dana Dodd