Red Bell Ringers~

 

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It had snowed that day and was probably 24 degrees. She stood there ringing her bell for the Salvation Army. To be truthful, I am suspect that weeks before I had seen her with a sign on the corner of the roadway; her sign said “anything will help”. I was actually happy to see she was willing to “work” in order to earn money for herself.

She smiled her toothless smile and I put a few bucks in the red pot! Then I said “ would you like a coffee?’ to which she replied “a small black coffee would be wonderful. I smiled and expressed to her that I was talking about a really yummy coffee like a Mocha with whip cream. She stared at me for a moment and then said, “I haven’t had a coffee like that in over 10 years”. After completing my shopping I purchased her a coffee and a $15.00 Gift Certificate so that she could have another during the holidays!

Arriving at home I pondered the simplicity of blessing people. It’s not scary, it’s not complicated, and it’s truly cup-filling if you care about people. I don’t toot my horn to make it sound like I’m wonderful by any means but rather to express that the Holidays can be lonely and sad for many people. This is a beautiful time to choose to walk out your kindness for others! It could be a fresh, clean blanket for a homeless man, a coffee for a stranger, or paying for the groceries of the single mom with whom it’s obvious she is struggling to pay. There’s just so many ways to show love!

The holidays are a prefect time; it will fill your soul!

 

Luke 6:38 says:

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

 

Have a heartfelt Christmas season!

Fake Flowers~

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In the warm summer evenings my husband and I love to take an evening walk after dinnertime. We love waving at neighbors, chatting, and enjoy looking at the hard work that our neighbors have poured into their yards during our very short summer season.

At the very beginning of our walk there sits a small home, probably built in the 70’s. The yard is immaculate and is often a place where a family of deer will go to sit in the cool grass on a hot day.

However, there was always one thing that confused us as we walked by this lovely little yard; on a small fence that surrounded the yard there was always a big vase of fake flowers. In Spring the flowers were pink and yellow, in summer a mix of red and greens, then in the Fall they were orange, yellow, and brown. We would always chuckle and wonder why these home owners would place this vase of fake flowers in their yard when it was already lovely with real flowers!

Mr. Rea and his wife, we later learned, are the owners of that little home. Mr. Rea is an older man, probably nearer to 90 than to 80.  Every day Mr. Rae would walk a loop through our neighborhood stooped over so significantly that many of us would feel concerned for him. Mr. Rae was known in our neighborhood as a friendly old man; he would say hello to those he would pass. It was always a treat to see him.

Two weeks ago the fake flowers disappeared.  A “For Sale” sign was placed in front of the yard. We haven’t seen Mr. Rea in a while. Taking a walk last week my husband and I looked wistfully at the spot where we had always viewed those crazy fake flowers before and we wished, now, that there was still a tall vase of fake flowers sitting there.

Times passes quickly and you never know when you may have your last interaction with someone in your life. This is a good reminder to share a smile, say hello, and to show kindness as you go through your days leaving you with no regrets.

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OUCH!

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Isn’t it so easy to be offended? So often we can take a simple statement and add layers of meaning to it –especially if we’ve experienced hurt before.   We can apply the identical angst in our present relationships to those of the past and so often we are misunderstanding others because of this.

Lysa TerKeurst wrote some really good thoughts about this very topic in her devotional “Embraced”. In it she gave such good advice that I want to share it with you! We women can get offended and read into comments so easily—the enemy LOVES this! Because of this I just had to share her wise words!

  1. When I’m tired or stressed I’m likely to interpret interactions way more emotionally than I should. I should wait to respond until I’ve had time to rest!
  2. Believe the best before assuming the worst. The person you are in a seemingly conflict with probably didn’t have an intent to hurt me!
  3. Clarify, Clarify, Clarify! When in doubt, don’t assume anything. Be brave enough to ask! Our past can cause us to add commentary that in all truth –doesn’t even apply to this situation.

If you are like me, you will find these steps so full of truth! Be unoffendable as much as possible. So many times we are lacking all the needed information when we indict others intentions!!

 

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

James 1:19

Mothers of Teens!! READ THIS!!

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As a 20 year Life and Business Coach I often have incredible mother’s who secretly connect with me and share their fears and challenges of raising kids between the ages of 12 and 17.   Yes, I’ve raised 2 boys….Yes, I’ve learned a few things along the way but~~~However,  I WAS that difficult teenager. My poor, wonderful parents had to face the challenges I threw at them for many years.

Because I WAS that girl I want to give parents 10 things to remember while parenting your pre-adult children:

  1. Hormones cause brain damage—those hormones cause emotions that will settle down in a while but they cause boys and girls to become incredibly emotional and dramatic—this will pass!
  2. It’s not personal. I knew how to hurt my parents with comments like “you’re the worst parents ever!” “I hate you!!”   I promise you, I said all of that and more!  I did not mean a word of it!  I was just mad I wasn’t getting my way!
  3. The insecurity of a teen is real! I remember wondering “ where do I fit in?” “do I fit in?” Why are all the popular girls skinny while I have wide hips?”  Seems silly but for a teen these challenges are real! Be patient and help your kids find something they are really good at! Once you find your niche’ it’s easier to navigate peer pressure.
  4. Stay an adult! Don’t argue with your child at their level!! Do you remember believing you knew everything until you  grew up and had a family of your own?? In hindsight we would all say “wow, we didn’t know anything!!”
  5. Don’t make the “bad boy or the bad girl” attractive by demonizing them. When I was told I couldn’t date a certain boy I ran away from home because I knew my parents “just didn’t understand him” which made the attraction even bigger! Find a creative way to bring that person closer to your home and they may self-select out!
  6. Your kids know your family values! Even when I was misbehaving I knew I was doing all the wrong things, I just wanted to fit in- to be cool!  Pray for your kids- for safety, for wisdom, and for purpose!!
  7. Don’t let your teens cause strife in your marriage because they will play off of that! I would walk a mile to the end of our driveway to “talk” with my dad before he got home! During that “talk “I would let him know how mean mom had been!! (I know, I was awful. My mom got very hurt during those years)
  8. Some situations may be more than your teens bargained for –sex, porn etc! Don’t shame them, keep the conversation open and focus on the cost of the behavior.  Being shamed or being told they are “bad” will only cause them to feel they are damaged goods and they will act out.
  9. Cover them in love even when they hurt you. Love is actually what they are crying out for! This takes patience and maturity on your part.
  10. Don’t let yourself go to the “worst case scenario”, don’t decide they will never be a good adult, don’t decide they will get pregnant, don’t decide they will become a drug addict! That kind of thinking will make you respond out of fear rather than faith!!

At my 10 year Class reunion I had my fellow students ask the simple question “so what do you do now? To which I replied “I am a Pastor’s Wife”……my classmates looked a little surprised! My teen years were certainly a winding road but God had his eyes on me all along.

God has your kids too! Have faith, pray, love, and work hard to be as unoffendable as possible! Your teens love you- but they just want their way!

Lessons from my Yearbook~

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Summertime always seems to make me a little nostalgic. I am a beach girl; I was raised in Santa Cruz County where hanging at the beach and outdoor fun was always a huge part of my summer experience.

So recently, while digging out some old photo albums of my boys my eyes caught a glimpse of my old High School yearbooks. It’s been well over 30 years since I cracked open those books full memories. Being a “people person” I took a little time to Google and Facebook some of the names of past friends; I love to see what others have been doing and always hoping that they have had a good, meaningful life.

Looking at the young faces of friends I was reminded of so many memories, conversations and frankly, shenanigans! I found many friends were living their best lives while others had faced some significant challenges. Life can have some unexpected twists and turns for sure!

I decided to go back through the yearbooks with another filter, looking for those that I could remember as students who weren’t in the IN CROWD. I could distinctly remember those who were loners, even those who got bullied. I was able to pick out those girls who were criticized and misunderstood; my heart was sad. No one wants to feel unexpected or misunderstood. Junior High and High School can be such a brutal time.

Coming from a family of 6 girls I was fortunate to have a regular solid posse around me but I would still get dressed for High School full of anxiety for the uncertainty of the day. I always tried to have a smile on my face but there were many days I was dying with insecurity inside.

My third year of college I got to experience what many of the students I had identified as disenfranchised at my High School experienced every day. I transferred from a college in Northern California to a college in Costa Mesa, Ca. The leadership used the first 3 days of school to take the entire student body to a mountain retreat. I was new, knowing no one so I was not excited about this experience. When I checked into my room no one acknowledged me, at mealtimes no one at the table spoke to me, during the free time activities no one invited me in. The experience of being desperately lonely while being surround by people who are connected to one another is really the worst kind of lonely. I sat alone and wept.  I understand that feeling now.

Certainly I am older and wiser now but if I could I would  go back to those in my High School Yearbook who experienced this on a daily basis. I wish I could go back and lighten their load; help them to feel excepted. I wish…….

Truth is, everyday we have people around us who are in need of encouragement, acceptance, and connection. I noticed it in High School but I was so focused on myself that I overlooked their hurtful experience. In this season of life I now better, you know better. Let’s pay attention, reach out, include and care. Lonely is an awful place to be.

No Harm on Our Watch~

 

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Last week Greg and I had the responsibility and joy of keeping our two grandchildren in our home for 8 days (ages 5 and 2) while their mother and father took a well-deserved vacation on the island of Maui.

Prior to having the children come I spent countless hours preparing for our week together; fun crafts, food that children like, and ways to help them sleep through the night. (the sleep through the night part was mostly for Greg and I !! )

Once the children had been dropped off and their folks were on their way I felt the weight of making sure these precious gems were not hurt on our watch. Whether climbing the structures at the park, driving them to fun activities, or walking along the sidewalk; I felt the deep responsibility to be mindful of where they were at all times, to be certain they weren’t in harms way.

Midway through the week we had only had a couple of bumped heads and lips but nothing that required any doctor’s care; Greg and I were so relieved. Nevertheless we were also a little tired because we were mindful at all times that it was our responsibility to be sure they were safe; we were their protectors.

It was during this time when the Lord spoke to my heart and helped me to see at real truth. He let me see that the love and concern that we were pouring into these two little ones was very similar to the way He watches over me, over us. Psalm 121:5-8 says it this way:

The Lord watches over you.
    The Lord is like a shade tree at your right hand.
The sun won’t harm you during the day.
    The moon won’t harm you during the night.

The Lord will keep you from every kind of harm.
    He will watch over your life.
The Lord will watch over your life no matter where you go,
  Both now and forever.

Well, we made it through all 8 days without a crisis and had an incredibly fun week with our grandchildren yet I was also grateful for being reminded that our own Heavenly Father is mindful and watchful over us each and every day; I take great comfort in that!                                                       You should too.

The Treacherous Road to Hana~

 

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I returned home from Maui just a few days ago; Greg and I had such a good time. Getting away and being in vacation mode can give couples a chance to play, to reignite friendships, and to remember how good it is to just be together.

Our friends on the island encouraged us to take a back road to Hana where we would come to a State Park and would find an incredible hike leading to a magnificent waterfall. “How are the roads?” we asked. They smiled and said “not that bad.”

Greg and I embarked on our journey to the high country passing through a couple cute towns, trees blossoming all around us, and we even found a little coffee shop for some incredible coffee cake! Then we continued to drive…….and drive…..and drive.

Halfway into our journey the houses disappeared, the roads became one lane only, and we found ourselves on high drop off cliffs; if another vehicle had come in the other direction there would not be anywhere to go.

As we continued along the one lane road became a dirt road and tighter than even before; this was a risky adventure. Greg and I laughed ( and prayed) as we wound up and down this ever changing terrain. Had I known how insane this road was I probably would have said ‘No” to going! However, after we experienced the amazing hike and wound our way all the way back to Kehei we both felt like we had such a scary, fun, crazy day!!

I’ve had the joy of spending time in this season of my life leading couples through a robust pre marriage assessment. One of the main points that comes through in the assessment is that in order to stay close, intimate, and connected couples need to regularly experience shoulder to shoulder adventures and activities; it makes a world of difference. Without these connections the relationship can feel stale and more like a partnership than a friendship!

Are you a married couple? Do you look for adventure opportunities together or has the relationship lost it’s zip? Though I’m not sure I’d recommend you the back road to Hana, find away to experience life together. Go have some crazy fun!!

Coaching’s Saddest Moments~

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I have been so privileged to be a Life and Business Coach for so many years now; watching leaders grow in their personal life and skill set is truly thrilling for me! Watching courageous men and women chart fresh action steps into their calendars to achieve new and meaningful goals is pure joy and any good Coach will tell you the same!

Those who coach do so because we believe that everyone can reach their goals and build a legacy if they are willing to tweak some of their choices, engage in new behavior choices, and allow themselves to be accountable to someone who wants nothing more than to see them win in every area of their life!

Every win goes into the “why I coach file”.

Nevertheless, as a Coach I have experienced some sad moments. There are times when an amazing individual with mountains of potential just simply doesn’t allow themselves to make needed changes. There are times when these same individuals sabotage the little progress they have managed to make. These individuals express how badly they want change but they just don’t commit to the good choices it would take to reach those desired goals! This is when I, as a Coach feel really sad; I hate to see people miss out on the great life they could have while they settle for “good enough”.

As humans, all of us can settle for the good, while never reaching for what is great. We can lose the will to dream and simply focus on our day-to-day requirements. And sabotage?  Anyone whose dieted know how easy it is to undo weeks of mindful eating, right?

Can I encourage you today to dream again? Can I impress upon you to see your great value as a human and a leader? Is it possible to hand you a permission slip that gives you the right to make needed changes for great growth?

 

We have one life and there is only one YOU! Reach for the Moon!

The Long Winter~

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Snow. 

For some this word creates a sense of anticipation and excitement. For me dread sets in. I am a lover of all things sunshine. I enjoy spring, I am nuts about summer, I hesitate to embrace fall because I know it ushers in the dreaded winter season.

Melodramatic? Nope, completely true. Winter, for me, is long, cold, and oft-times depressing. If I were a skier then winter would have a different meaning (and my husband would be so happy), but I am not. Having been raised in a beach community I learned that water and sunshine filled my emotional cup. Winter and snow just don’t.

Socially, the summer season is full of outdoor connections with friends and family, picnics on the grass, walks on the river trails, camping near a beautiful lake, and mountain hikes. Winter feels more like a Netflix binge and early nights.

Having lived in Central Oregon for over 20 years I have learned one thing: the sun does come out again, the seasons do change and I receive the change wholeheartedly!!

Life is kind of like that isn’t it. We all experience seasons of joy, celebration, challenge, and opportunity. Some seasons fly by so very fast, some seasons seem to last a very long time. Seasons of challenge can feel dark and overwhelming, even isolating. We ask ourselves, “will this ever end? Where is the light at the end of this tunnel?’

Just like the weather seasons, our life seasons will ebb and flow but it will not always be “winter”, the sun will come out again.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says,

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Oftentimes, we lose heart or during seasons of challenge, because it doesn’t appear anything is happening.  We lose heart. Learning to trust that God will usher in a new season change can be difficult.

However, The Lord created different seasons in our lives to shape us and create us into who He intended us to be. He uses seasons to show us that He is good and can “make everything beautiful for its own time” Seasons (good and bad) are ways for God to capture our hearts and our faith.

If you feel you are in a long winter season take heart today; spring is just around the corner!

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The Power of a Simple Bobby Pin~

 

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A bobby pin is a simple item created to hold beautiful locks of hair in place or to adorn your flowing locks. Bobbie pins come in all sizes; some created with all sorts of lovely bejeweling. Many of us can find them at the bottom of our handbag or in our bathroom drawer where we keep our brushes and combs. A bobby pin is simply an everyday item; something we easily take for granted.

Sitting in the waiting room anxiously she is filled with uncertainty. As the surgeon enters she can tell by the concerned look of his face that the news isn’t good. The diagnosis? Cancer.

A woman experiences an avalanche of emotions when she faces a cancer diagnoses. How will this affect my family?  How will I tell my children? What is the best treatment? Will this financially topple her? How will she navigate the avalanche of emotions?  So man questions yet one question always runs through her mind.

Will I lose my hair?

As she sits in front of the mirror seeing gaps where portions of her hair have been she knows it is now time to shave her remaining hair; she experiences an abrupt new look; she sheds tears and bravely moves forward.

Looking at her options she wonders, “ should I purchase a wig? Should I embrace the idea of wearing a turban or a scarf in an effort to navigate this already difficult season?” Often times a woman will choose these options not for her own comfort but to make those around her more comfortable with her “baldness.”

There are days when she wistfully relooks at pictures of the woman she saw herself to be before the cancer diagnosis; she longs to see  that girl in the mirror as she fearlessly fights the disease inside. She misses her hair.

Over the weekend I had the immense pleasure of being a part of a special conference put on by a richly impacting non-profit called Compassion That Compels. This conference is a gathering of priceless, beautiful women who are or have fought a cancer battle. These women are incredibly courageous; I was inspired the moment I entered the room.

At the tail end of the conference the passionate founder of the non-profit, Kristianne Stewart, asked some key women to come to the front of the room. Standing in front of me were women who were just coming out of their cancer treatment. As Kristianne began to move from woman to woman I saw her reach out and gently place a bejeweled bobby pin in the tiny flocks of hair beginning to grow out on the heads of these beautiful over-comers. The room was full of tears; tissues were being passed around the room because everyone there knew the power of this moment, it was way more than a simple bobby pin.

This priceless bobby pin is a signal for the hope of a new season, a time to reclaim fresh glimpses of the girl she saw in the mirror seasons ago. The bobby pin is an emotional representation of the battle she has courageously fought.

Beautiful Amanda grabbed my heart as I watched this tiny bobby pin being placed on the side of her pretty head. Tears fell from her eyes and I, having never faced a cancer treatment, got an emotional glimpse of the depth that this cancer battle had cost her. My heart was so moved as I understood for the first time the impacting power of the bobby pin. This was a moment I will never forget; what a precious and meaningful show of love.

Should you or someone you love face a cancer diagnosis don’t face the journey alone. Let me suggest you reach out to a team of Beautiful Over-comers to join you in your journey.

You can find them at http://www.compassionthatcompels.org