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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Defying Limitations!

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After a wonderful church service yesterday our family made our way to a meet and great area of our church; coffee, tea, and snacks. This is designed for folks to interact between or before the service they have attended. Somewhere within a 15 minute period I turned and saw my one year old grandson Holden looking quite fascinated with a lovely woman in a wheelchair, minutes later his sister Scout joined him as this lovely, kind woman began to talk with our little ones in loving tones and kind gestures. I was fascinated by seeing that what drew them to her was the wheelchair, what kept them there was just who she was. This lovely woman didn’t appear to act like she saw her wheelchair as if it was a limitation.

It’s been almost 10 years now since I worked part-time at a wonderful local Athletic Club in my hometown; within the building there was a well-run Physical Therapy practice.   Jordan was my friend; he came into the club 2 times a week to do swim therapy in the indoor pool. Jordan was a quadriplegic and his wheelchair would forever be his mode of transportation.  Jordan was so kind, so funny, so motivated to live a normal life. I remember watching him faithfully ride the local bus to the Club, being lowered into the pool and making every effort to stretch and move his tight muscles. Jordan worked a full-time job at our local theater taking tickets and welcoming those who attended; he did it all from his wheelchair. I was especially intrigued when he excitedly shared with me that he had just won a Bocce Ball tournament in another city!! Bocce Ball in a wheelchair? I am convinced that Jordan did not see his wheelchair as a limitation.

My precious mother is in her 80’s and she is not only an amazing woman, she is a gifted artist.  Because she is so passionate about art she has spent well over 20 years teaching children and adults to find their inner artist.  My mother also has Scoliosis and is in pain every single  day.  She never whines.  Week after week she prepares her studio for her students: setting up art supplies and cleaning up after all of her budding artists.  She could easily quit and most people with that kind of chronic pain probably would.  I can see that my mother has not allowed her limitations to stand in the way of her passion.

How often do we limit ourselves to do or be all we can be? How often do we see our challenges as overwhelming and we simply give up on our dreams? How often do we say “no” when , if we had some real fire in our bellies, we could achieve so many impacting things without letting our limitations take us out of the game!!

Do we give up too easily? Do our limitations overwhelm us or convince us we cannot continue to challenge ourselves and grow? To be honest I really think many of us do.

Can you think back to stories you have heard of people who have faced incredible adversity: loss of limbs, finances, family, home, or health and have persevered and caused you to tear up when you hear their brave, triumphant story? Haven’t you walked away thoroughly inspired?

What is your limitation? What stops you from pressing forward in your life? Do you think you might be giving in too easily? Do you think you might be lacking tenacity and perseverance to run your race with all your might? If so, what can you change today? How can you get fired up to move beyond those things that have held you back?

I encourage you to take a fresh look at your challenges. I encourage you to be brave and move forward in spite of them. I encourage you to live in fresh freedom!

“Only acknowledge your limitations for the purpose of overcoming them!”

Randy Gage

Full Circle Relationships~

Full Circle Relationships~

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I hate conflict. I’ve always hated conflict. In fact, I believe I spent many of my “young adult” years avoiding conflict as much as possible, especially in my college years, and early in my role as a Pastor’s wife. Yet conflict is often inevitable. For me, the problem with being IN a conflict was that I felt I needed to fix the relationship as quickly as possible. My nature is to want to be friends and friendly with others to the best of my ability; conflict simply makes me anxious and sad.

Making peace, however, is not always resolving the conflict. Sweeping challenges under a rug is not helpful in sustaining long-term quality relationships. Nevertheless, I have been learning over the past 10 years that if I do what I can to bring resolve, even letting the relationship go for a season, it often comes around “full circle” where resolve and understanding are uniquely applied anew. I have been surprised by this many, many times. Watching this take place in my life both takes me by surprise and, frankly, makes me very happy.

I’ve gained a few insights as I’ve pondered all of this and I want to share just a few with you.

  1. In a conflict, especially in the heat of it, don’t say everything you are thinking. Emotions are interesting and can cause us to respond so defensively or angrily that what we say, in the moment, can cause greater harm than the conflict itself. The example of opening a feather pillow, letting the feathers fly out, and then trying to put them all back inside the pillow is a good picture of how the things we say can be impossible to retract. In a conflict it is better to cautious of what we say if we desire the relationship to have resolve one day.
  2. Be willing to let things go. In many of the full circle relationships I have experienced I have not been “justified” nor have the other parties necessarily apologized. When I look over all the goodness that has surrounded my life, all the blessings…it just doesn’t seem right for me to hang on to disagreements, necessary endings, or misunderstandings. I want to move on, beyond the conflict and be ready to forgive. Life is too short to harbor anger and resentment. Anger changes me; it doesn’t make me the best version of myself!
  3. Learn from the conflict. What was my part? What could I have done better? What should I have avoided? How can I grow from this challenge? My dad used to use the statement about finding a “pony in the poop”! J There is always something to gain from our challenges if we are willing to really dig for it! And, there are always two sides to a relational challenge.
  4. Use the conflict to grow in grace.   Conflicts are real, and sometimes, relational challenges can cause really deep hurts; real scars. And yet as I look at the grace I have been given over and over and over again; unmerited favor, I am challenged to practice grace with those around me. Some situations require more time on my knees but at the end of the day bitterness never wins.
  5. It’s okay to have boundaries in a challenging relationship. There are times when a relationship comes full circle and there is peace where there has been conflict. But~ the relationship may require more caution, even good boundaries in the days forward. Boundaries can be wise if they are applied with kindness and understanding. I have relationships that I know can be toxic; in those instances I will limit the amount of time I spend in connection with them.
  6. Last of all~ never slam the door shut on a relationship.   Honestly, life can be surprising. People Change. Time changes people. Challenges bring fresh understanding. We NEVER know what can and will happen in a relationship; keep the possibilities in front of you.

Reconciliation is at the very heart of God; starting with our reconciliation with Him. His heart is that His people would walk together in peace and understanding. However, this can prove to be a real challenge as we do life with others. In families, in the workplace, in the church, even in the community; conflict can happen. Hopefully you will see relational challenges in your life come full circle in the days ahead as you practice caution with your words, grace and forgiveness, and are willing to own your part! Dr. Phil always says “This situation needs a hero; will it be you?”

Tell Someone!

 

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2015 was a good year.

As my husband and I reminisced during the holiday season we both expressed how thankful we were for memories made, goals achieved, lessons learned, and challenges addressed. We navigated sadnesses and spent  glorious hours with our children and grandchildren.  We say goodbye to 2015 thankful for all our blessings.

About 4 years ago I wrote in my yearly Life Plan the goal of creating a Woman’s Event in my hometown. I wanted to help women engage in rich conversations about their lives, direction, challenges, and personal goals.  I had the tools, I was full of ideas but…………I didn’t tell anyone nor did I ask anyone to keep me accountable to accomplish the goal.  It never happened!

Last year, I hesitated as I put the same goal on my yearly Life Plan. This time I  proceeded to share the idea with my husband and Coachwell teammates.  As the year comes to a close I have to say that the Women’s Event that we created, offered, and accomplished has to be one of the highlights of my year.  What a wonderful opportunity to spend time with amazing women, reconnecting with past relationships, and starting to help them get some fresh traction in their life goals!  The key to accomplishing this goal?

Accountability!

2016 is just days away.  Do you have any un-achieved goals in your life? A priority that needs intentional time and attention? Do you have a dream that’s  covered in dust?  Perhaps this is your year to gain some traction by setting the goal, building the plan, AND gaining accountability from those you trust!  Just imagine reading through the plan you cautiously created at the end of 2015 following the holidays next year.  Imagine that you are celebrating the accomplishment of completing the goal!

Grab a little “quiet time” as this year comes to a close.  Grab a journal or notebook, take time to think, pray, and consider all that is in your heart..then…begin to bravely write your goals for the year, those that you’ve been so hesitant about until now.  Within the next two weeks share your plan with one or two trusted individuals; allow them to keep you accountable throughout the year.  You will be surprised at the traction you will have as you gain inspiration from those who want to see you win AND you will enjoy celebrating all the challenges you’ve overcome along the way!!

2016 is a fresh slate, what would be a WIN for you in 2017?

Be brave! Tell Somebody! 🙂

Happy New Year!