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).

Slippery Slope~

 

 

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Climbing down the slippery cliff toward our favorite beach, we held on for dear life. Rain the night before had made the already treacherous path even more dangerous. Yet, beach goers like ourselves knew that the snorkeling and swimming below was worth the effort so we forged ahead!

In our little group we had two toddlers to be mindful of so it was truly amazing to watch how thoughtful and kind other “path climbers” were to allow us to pass making sure those kids got to the bottom or the top safely. Mind you, stepping out-of-the-way or making room was as challenging as actually making the trek!

Feet full of red clay, a few scratches here and there and a fresh bruise on the bottom of my foot; I and my family made it to the bottom to enjoy this spectacular beach; not once but 4 times during our stay on Kauai!

Hidden Beach is a small beach in the Princeville area of the Island of Kauai; this area draws hundreds and hundreds of vacationers every single year! This beach is a “hidden” favorite and not for the faint of heart.

This particular day the surf was especially high as there was a hurricane looming outside the area; we were on alert but not deeply concerned. As so many folks gathered on this small strip of beach I was enjoying the sounds of so many different languages all around me; a gathering place of so many individuals and families from every nation, economic status, gender, personal persuasions, and spiritual focus. We were all so different as we enjoyed this God-given gift of His beautiful ocean together.

Mid-day it happened. Waves had been slowly creeping closer and closer to the place where our towels (and the towels of many others) had been carefully laid out. Snorkel gear, children’s sand toys, and ice chests full of well-prepared lunches were spread around the outside of the towels.

All of a sudden an especially large set of waves blew in and without any warning shot huge waves far beyond the water line that it had marked for most of the day.   Saltwater flew all the way up to the rock wall that served as the back of the beach until this point! Possessions belonging to every beach goer began to fly in all directions and quickly began being pulled along with the wave back into the ocean!

Everybody grabbed items for everybody. Everybody tried to help everybody. Everybody wanted everyone to retain all his or her items. Everyone worked together for the common good. Everyone!

I’m certain that a child’s shovel or two were pulled out to sea but we all had the good fortune to have taken all our personal items home, they were soaked but they were ours. Each one of us was grateful to everyone’s willingness and kindness. We smiled a knowing smile as we nodded a “thank you” to one another.

Later that night I took time to ponder what that experience meant to me. What stood out about that situation that grabbed my attention in a fresh way? What made me smile? For me, watching the willingness strangers in every walk of life and every way of living lay aside any differences to jump to their feet to simply help another human being. They weren’t get paid or rewarded, no one mandated the response. Everyone just jumped in to help collectively and it was crazy, beautiful to watch.

This unique gathering of people on the beach is a picture of gatherings we might find at a concert, the airport, or even a restaurant. Yet, it could also be your grocery store, library, or even church. It took a huge wave to cause us all to jump to our feet in an effort to reach across our comfort levels to help each other; it took a mini-crisis.

We often see individuals cross comfort lines when there is a shooting, a weather crisis, or some other community or world tragedy.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if it didn’t take a crisis, tragedy, or “mini-crisis” for us to love actively on those around us? Imagine the impact in our world if we all spent our days being watchful to come alongside those who are so different from us to encourage them, support them, or to simply lend a hand!

Fall is a little like the first of January, it can feel like a fresh start in many ways. Take this season to consider stepping beyond a crisis or comfort zone to be God’s sweet hand extended to beautiful humans who simply might not be comfortably similar to you.

 

Finding your soul begins by discovering our ability to listen! Alternatively, by sharing a smile, a laugh and just by being human to everyone – from friends, colleagues, family, and especially strangers, including those who are not from the same station in life as you.

Who is the bigger man?

 

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Tonight Greg and I went on a date! So fun! We walked the River Trail and enjoyed the rush of the river, the crisp wind that cooled us down, and the greenery that made us feel in awe for God’s amazing creation.!

After our 4-mile walk Greg and I decided to grab a quick bite before heading into the movies to watch The Incredibles (don’t judge)

As we ordered a salad and Iced tea there was a disturbance that caught our attention very close to where we were sitting. An angry man and his pretty wife jumped up and moved to a table way alongside of us–cursing and angry about the loud children that had been seated at a table right behind them.

We hear angry responses from the father and mother of two rambunctious boys from the family behind this older couple, the father expressed that his kids didn’t come with a mute button! “ This is a family restaurant!! All of a sudden two angry men were bumping chests and hurling angry responses to each other! Once it died down—the father with his children beside him preceded to provoke further anger by calling out the antagonist challenging him to fight and calling him a coward!

Greg and I caught eyes. We were both sad. Adults should lead in the arena of civility and yet, two sweet young boys observed the anger in these two men that mirrored the anger so prevalent in our culture today!

God says that His people will be salt and light in and generation who has lost its way!

How can we shine a light? How can we be a different flavor than those who are pent up—angry. This is a remarkable season for those who follow Christ! Let’s seek him in this angry generation and bring hope, kindness, civility, and reconciliation!

I had a really bad rash~

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It started with a small spot here and there; a little break out I assumed. I awoke the following morning with multiple spots and some swelling on my face; now I was both concerned and confused! Was I allergic to something I’d put on my skin? Had I eaten something that could have caused this reaction? I was feeling my anxiety rise; what is happening to my face?

After 3 days of managing this on my own I did the unthinkable! Yes! I looked up all the possibilities on the Internet! Believe me, the information that bombarded my brain caused me to become anxious and overwhelmed! I don’t recommend this route to anyone. Ended up going to my dermatologist and found out I have Rosacea (who knew) and this was a Rosacea breakout caused by something unknown. I got some medicine that caused it to begin to heal within hours!

Though this was a total nuisance; both irritating and frustrating, it did reveal something about me and gave me a chance to grow.

While my face was highly imperfect I didn’t go out of the house, not even to go get the mail a block away. I didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day at a Brunch with my sisters or attend church on Mother’s Day. I was not going to be seen out and about looking this way!

While home I had time to think about my situation and also the situations of others. Earlier this year I was involved in an amazing retreat where the majority of attenders were women involved in chemo treatments or Cancer survivors. These beautiful women had hair in various stages: short cut hair, thinning hair, and some with no hair at all due to the chemo treatments.  These lovely women hadn’t let how they felt “looked” keep them from enjoying their life or an opportunity to connect with other courageous women.

I was challenged by the feeling I had inside that told me “if I didn’t look perfect then I’d better hide away at home!”   Every time I looked in the mirror I was convinced that I looked horrible; this certainly took a hit on my self-esteem.

Isn’t it so much easier to put on our happy face when entering social settings when we feel we measure up? Isn’t it more freeing to connect with others when we are at the top of our game; at out best? Sure it is! I had a very evident rash on my face that anyone passing by would have easily seen and probably acknowledged with a “ohhh, what happened?”   Ugh! I didn’t want anyone to know!  Isn’t it true that, in reality, sometimes we’ve got a “rash” on our soul that effects us the same way? Maybe it’s a hurt, a habit, or an experience that has left us feeling “imperfect. Due to this “rash” we isolate ourselves saying that “when it goes away” I will re-engage with those I love.

After 6 days home alone (with the exception of my very kind and patient husband) it felt so right to exercise again, walk outside, visit with friends and family; my cup felt full again. Every person I shared my experience with said “I wouldn’t have cared about an old rash; I care about you!”

Got a “rash” holding you back?

Reach out, re-enter and re-engage; isolation doesn’t make it heal any faster!