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

A Question I Couldn’t Ignore~

 

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I spend a great deal of time in my career as a Leadership Coach asking powerful questions to help leaders gain greater perspective, vet out limited thinking, and to help them to see their leadership in a fresh way.

Recently, I was faced with a challenging question from an unexpected source! I have the  privilege of having my granddaughter come to my house every Thursday for an hour for her “lessons”. For the first 30 minutes we learn to draw and to paint, for the second 30 seconds I try to give her piano lessons on my keyboard. It’s a sweet time as you can imagine.

This past week, as she silently painted, Scout put her hand on my hand and asked me a profound question: “Mimi, you will be at my wedding when I grow up won’t you?”( she is 4 1/2)

I just turned 60 about a week ago so that was a poignant question. I could tell her I hope so, I could tell her I want to, or I could tell her I will do everything I can to make sure that I can be there!

I told her the latter. With that promise from her Mimi comes a real responsibility to do just that ~ to do EVERYTHING I can, in my power and decisions, to be here for her.

Certainly, there are things that catch us by surprise in our health and circumstances; some things are beyond our control. Yet, when this little darlin’ asked me that sweet question I realized I needed to shore up some areas in my life to fulfill my commitment to her. She is depending on me to be there.

I am committed to be sure to get the check ups I need , watch what I eat better, get needed exercise , work on getting a good nights sleep, using my time well, and taking richer time to pray and ponder. Those are things I can control.

What about you? Are you precious to someone who wants to you be in their life over all the seasons? If you were asked a poignant question just as I was would you be challenged to make some changes to do all you can do to “be there”?

Let’s do all WE can for those who are counting on us!

 

The Value of the Box~

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On the eve of a quick trip to go to Disneyland in California, my son and daughter in law along with my grand babies stopped by to share a birthday dessert with me.

As they laughed and jested about my upcoming 60th birthday they presented me with “the” box.   A box covered in positive words closed with a latch was placed in front of me. Tears welled up in my eyes even before I lifted the lid; I knew it was something meaningful because my kids always choose a gift for me that is more about heart than finances!

Slowly I lifted the lid and looked down at well over 45 envelopes, some typed and some handwritten, but all instantly precious to me. All I could think about was that so many people had taken time out of their incredibly busy schedule to remember me. So precious.

I spent an entire evening slowly reading through every word, every card, every encouragement. Sitting on a chair on the other side of the living room my sweet husband kept asking, “are you ok?” With tears in my eyes I kept saying “my heart is full to overflowing.”

There is something so precious about the written word. In previous blogs I have discussed the incredible richness of a written card or letter.  In the age of email, instagram, and texting there is a lost art of sharing our hearts via the written word.

I will forever keep these cards, I will forever cherish the words shared with me and I will be forever grateful for the encouraging words written by precious people who stopped to take the time to encourage me. I am, again, humbled by each and every word. This is the value of the box. Friends, thank you for taking the sting out of turning 60! Great years ahead!

I bought a record player~

 

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I got a record player.  

Yes, I know I can download every song on the planet to my phone, get my Bluetooth and listen to any or all of those songs whenever I please.   But, I got a record player nonetheless.

In a couple weeks I will turn 60 years old, ugh! Can’t believe I am saying that out loud!  When I turned 50 if felt like a hurdle to climb over, now 50 looks pretty inviting.

When I pull out my record player and grab my vinyl’s (Seals and Crofts, Peter Frampton, Elton John, the Eagles, the Who, Fleetwood Mac, and even Chicago…don’t judge) I hear the crackle of the needle as the music starts to play and I am transported back to the 1970’s; I can still feel my teenage heart within me. Turning 60 can’t steal that from me.

Turning 60 is an opportunity for me to look over the landscape of my life and marvel at so many incredible memories, relationships, travels, impacting occupations, and leadership opportunities I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing! I have enjoyed a richly blessed life and I am so grateful for them all.

Yet, in looking over the landscape of life I also recall many moments of sadness, sickness, loss, challenging changes, financial lack, and broken relationships. These experiences were difficult to walk through yet they also impacted the person I am today. In hindsight these experiences humbled me, taught me, challenged my character, and forced me to forgive. I believe I must also look at those hard times with gratefulness.

So, as I turn 60 I’ll enjoy my new record player, perhaps at 65  I’ll get a tattoo, at 70 I might even skydive!! Who knows? What I do know is that life is a gift and as difficult as it feels to turn 60 I am incredibly thankful for every blessed year I have been given and will continue to use the years ahead of me to make a difference wherever I can.

“Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind”

Thank you Seals and Crofts!

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Looking Back, Looking Within, Looking Forward!

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As a Coach I know that the best way to move into a new year or a new season is to reflect on the season you have been in.  A few days ago my sister shared a tool with me that asks some significantly poignant questions that I wanted to pass on to you.

Questions are key when contemplating good change; some of these questions may give you the opportunity to look deeper into the season you’ve been in and help you to set a more meaningful course for your season ahead.

Let me share a few with you:

  1.  What was the most important event that took place this past year; how did it impact you?
  2. What area has consumed your thinking, attention, and focus this past year? Have you addressed it or do I need to address it in this new year?
  3. What are the names of the people who have been the most life-giving to you this past year?  Who has sucked you dry?  What changes might you need to make?
  4. Who is your community?  Is it robust enough?
  5. How do you feel about your church experience this past year?  What about your prayer life?
  6. How many hours have you managed to sleep on an average this past year? do you need to make any changes to get the rest you need this year?
  7. What made you the happiest this past year? did you adequately celebrate the moment? how can you reproduce that experience this year?
  8. In the past year have you lived to work or worked to live?
  9. What might be your Big Hairy Audacious Goal this year? (BHAG) Something that stretches you and your faith!
  10. How can you make a difference in your community this year?

These are just a few questions to consider as you assess where you’ve been and where you’d like to go in 2019!

Happy, Happy New Year to you!

Reunion in heaven~

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Justice Served.

So many of you have heard the story of the murder of my nephew; 8 years ago.   He trusted people he shouldn’t have; he wanted to make money in an effort to make a difference. NO ONE, No One knows him, knew him like his adoring aunts and parents did.

The media will build a story to sell Television time; but they didn’t know him.

Today, after 8 years of waiting…his murderer was charged with Life without the option of any parole. We rejoice, but we still miss Christopher every single day.

He was our first nephew; the first grandson. Because of this the love that hovered over him was wildly deep! He was a treasure in every way.

His journey to make financial strides as an adult led him to trust people that were untrustworthy. The man who took Chris’s life and stole his identity was on the Missions Team at Saddleback Church. He was a charlatan impersonating a man of God. I called Saddleback; they profusely apologized for trusting such an evil man.

It is so hard to fathom that this monstrosity has become part of our family’s story.  Did we sin? Is God angry with us? What???   And yet, in God’s grace He continues to reveal that it rains on the just and the unjust.

My brave sister and her husband and family have chosen to trust God in their loss; they have believed He would see them through. He has.

I, through the tears, through the anger, and through the sadness, choose to trust God as well.

On that sweet day, when my life is over and God takes me home….my eyes will be peeled on those that have gone before me and when my eyes land on Christopher I will run faster; with outstretched arms, than I’ve ever run before. I will be home.

Political Fallout~

 

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As Americans we have been blessed to have the freedom to choose our government leadership based on our values and beliefs. We are so fortunate to have this right. However, the politics in this season of the United States have become divisive, angry, and relationally polarizing.   My heart is so sad when I see people behaving so hatefully with one another.

Yes, there are a lot of key issues that create concern and angst in us all; treatment of women, North Korea, a huge polarization between the Democrats and Republicans making it difficult to come to collaborative decision-making to name a few. It can surely be infuriating!

My biggest concern, however, is how people; friends and family members are treating one another. Relationships are being wounded by harmful words and indictments, accusations, and resentment between those who identify more with the Left or those who identify more with the Right ~this is the worst part of the fallout!

Our pastor has been teaching on how to radically love one another; that we can disagree and still love and respect one another! I believe this can be done; especially among those who are Christ followers.   At our core we all want to feel safe, experience peace, be free to have our own thoughts and opinions, to be respected, and to be treated with dignity, ALL of us do no matter how we vote.

Presidents will change, politics will ebb and flow, but the harm done in relationships over our differences will be challenging to repair. Consider whether you have allowed politics to harm relationships that matter to you; can we agree to disagree and still love one another?

 

1 Corinthians 13 The Message (MSG)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

       Let’s choose love.

Alpaca kind of love~

 

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“There’s a head and a foot showing!” my daughter in law exclaimed as she walked toward me from across the field. “Should we get some help?” My sister has a small ranch in our area and she has allowed an Alpaca farmer to use her farm for grazing; today there was a little surprise coming!

As my granddaughter and I walked back out to the pasture we realized a baby alpaca had been born just seconds before we arrived. As the tiny baby lay on the grass I watched all the mama’s in the field begin to close ranks; almost as if they were linking arms in protection of this precious life.

Scout and I stood quietly in amazement from a safe distance away as each of these “aunties” began to lick the face of this little one. Sweet cooing sounds filled the air as the baby was loved and nudged gently. I was surprised, even caught off guard by the instantaneous love and care each female alpaca had for this little one that wasn’t even theirs!

After 35 minutes had gone by each female began urging this new little life to stand up; careful nudging and nose-poking to move the baby to where they would stand and find mama’s milk.

It was so painful to watch this baby; wobbly legs and full of uncertainty, stand and take a few steps only to fall time and time and time again; feet flailing in the air. I wanted to jump in and help this little one yet if I even took one step toward them all the females would turn and give you “a look” that let us know we’d sure better stay put!!

Finally this baby alpaca stood and walked, still wobbly, yet stable enough to put one foot in front of the other. All the while, all the female alpacas encouraged, nurtured, nudged, and cooed in an effort to support this little one to walk with strength and confidence.

Once home I began to ponder my experience that day; all sorts of questions began pulsating through my brain! “Do we love this way?” “As human do we continue to lift up and encourage those we around us even if they fall time and time again?” “Do we speak words of encouragement when someone is struggling?” “And do we link arms in protection for those who are weak and learning to stand so that no one can enter the circle and cause harm?” As human beings do we love others in this selfless, tender way?

Nature can sure teach us some many powerful lessons; and this was certainly one of those!  My day on the little ranch truly impacted my heart as I knew that that many times we give up on others too soon, when someone falls too many times we tend to back away rather than lean further in, and frankly, we can tend to be exasperated rather than trying to building a united circle of support around an individual learning to stand.

Scout and I saw an example of the kind of love God bestows on us each and every day; those little alpacas preach a powerful sermon not soon to be forgotten.

“ Love is not a BECAUSE, it’s a NO MATTER WHAT”   Jodi Picoult

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Who are YOUR People?

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As a Life Coach I have the privilege of having crucial conversations with the most amazing women!  I love it when they say ” I never thought of that!” or “Boy, that’s a really good question!”  Those statements let me know that they are gaining some fresh thinking and may embark of some new ideas.  Over the past 18 years, however, I have heard a statement that has caused me great concern.  That statement?  ” Dianna, I’m so glad I have you to talk to, I don’t have anyone else.”  That statement creates so much sadness in my heart and I have often responded with the question “who are your people?” “who do you have in your posse?”

Relationships, especially those who we would invite into our “inner circle” will require purposeful attention.  Trusted relationships are built over time and, if taken seriously, can also stand the test of time.

As a young pastors wife with a very outgoing personality, I spent many happy hours flitting around socially, connecting lightly, with practically every woman in the church.  I felt like I needed to be willing to be everyone’s Buddy.  Interestingly enough, when I faced my own challenges of marriage, parenting, and ministry, I didn’t really have solid, trusted friends to talk to.  My mistake?  I had built my relationships so that they would fall into 2 of the categories listed below ~ Acquaintances and Friends.

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I had neglected to intentionally build my inner circle- my posse- my close friends.

Over the years I have met many more wonderful acquaintances and made lots of friends along the way, but I have worked hard to  build a group of precious, deeply trusted relationships where I can find and give encouragement, direction, prayer support, and fun.  It has taken time and intentionality.

What are the names of your people?  Who sits in your inner circle? Can you list them?  I have often made the statement ” we don’t need a whole bunch of people to count on, but we all need a few trusted friends to share life with.”

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother ( or sister) is born for a time of adversity” (Prov 17:17).