For Women Only!

images

If you have followed my blog for any length of time then you know that there are certain themes that I will write on time and time again; hopefully expressing thoughts in fresh ways. The “rule of seven” tells us that a person generally needs to hear a concept at least 7 times before really grabbing ahold of the concept and applying it to their lives.  So please indulge me as I take another stab at a truth that I know to be very, very important!

LADIES!  I give you permission today to take as good care of yourself as you do for all the others in your lives!

As a young woman, I was a pastor’s wife, friend, sister, daughter, church volunteer, school volunteer, house-keeper, cook, and mama to two active boys; how I wish I had been told how impacting it would have been if I had figured out some way to establish self care  in those days! So often I was exhausted, unhealthy, and even a bit isolated in my closest relationships….I was just so busy.

Let me explain Self-Care a little better:

“Self care includes any intentional action an individual takes to care for their physical, mental, relational, and emotional health.”
Good food, water, exercise, and good sleep patterns are  key to maintaining vibrant energy and outlook.
Life giving friends, healthy boundaries, quality support,  and cup-filling activities help to keep our emotional health strong.
Having proven ways to relax, taking time to journal thoughts and concerns, growing in the area of faith, listening to positive information rather than focusing on the negative, and learning to nap are all elements that support sustainable mental wellness.
Building good friendships, gathering with other women in your season of life, enjoying “girl time” where you can laugh deeply, and having a “posse” of women who you know have your back, strengthens our sense of connectedness and relational health.
Here’s an action step:
If you look at your calendar, personal and professional, and you don’t see yourself represented there on any given day–it’s time!
* a spa day
* a girl’s night out
* a nap
*time at the gym
* time with God
*time with a good book
*hiking in the great outdoors
*crafting
* and saying no to some good things to use your greatest energy for the BEST things.
10WaysToSayNo         ( just for you)
Permission Granted Again. ( you are worth it )
12074655_1096260140385472_8604268609497350824_n

What will be said of Me?

index

 

I have a wonderful privilege of gathering with some amazing women every other week to spend time talking about the things that we care deeply about.  We discuss the season of life we are presently in and look for quality ways to navigate the many challenges and opportunities we encounter everyday. We talk about learning to say our “best yes”, to make sure we find ways to re-fuel in order to be the best version of ourselves, and we look at focusing on those things we consider the highest priorities at this time, using them as a good filter when choosing how to best use our time.  These conversations are always rich and encouraging.

Last night we spent our time talking about Legacy.  We were all able to point to a person in our life who impacted us in a powerful way. Each one of us teared up simply talking about it! We could clearly see that without the gift of that person having touched our lives we would not be the women we are today.  Then we turned our attention to the fact that each one of us could be “that” person in someone’s life.  Down the road when a group of women gather, perhaps our name with be the one mentioned when expressing appreciation for key impact on their lives.  This is what leaving a Legacy looks like.  Lasting impact.

In a small study written by Dr. James Dobson, he expresses Legacy this way:

“Legacy is what future generations recall about you. You are a patriarch or a matriarch and your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will take what you have done with your life and build on their own lives.  It is the continuation of your ministry and influence (both positive and negative) beyond your lifetime, reflecting what you value and what you believe is important.”

Wow, does that mean that the choices, behaviours, values, and traditions we do ( or don’t) intentionally choose will be passed on to our future family? You bet!  Think about your family of origin; is there a legacy you feel compelled to carry forward?  Perhaps that legacy was unhealthy and you now have the chance to make choices that will turn it around in your generation.  Choosing to leave a good and lasting Legacy requires intentionality, long-term vision, strong values, and time spent building rich relationships.  We all have a choice as to the Legacy we leave behind.

Look at your life today and answer this question: “Who influenced you to be who you are today and how does their Legacy encourage you to leave behind a Legacy that continues to bear good fruit in the lives of those you dearly love? Take time to write out the type of Legacy you would like to leave behind and then make choices consistent with your hearts desire.  🙂

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

If you knew you had One month to live……..

 images

Recently my mother handed me 4 letters that I had written 10 years ago to my husband, sons, and parents “In Case” something ever happened to me.  I took the time 10 years ago, not because I was facing a crisis, but because I was in a healthy place, physically and mentally, and I wanted to express my thoughts towards them from a hope-filled place. My mother returned them to me wondering if I might want to re-write them and add a few more people ~ my precious daughter-in – laws and beloved granddaughters.  She was right…..I will pen them all very soon.

Reading through these letters was so interesting, so many hopes I expressed to my sons have come to pass, the heartfelt appreciation I had expressed towards my parents has only increased, and my hopes and heart for my husband remain sound. It was quite a journey to revisit my thoughts.

These letters have caused me to ponder this question:  “what would I do/say/complete/change if I knew I only had 30 days to live?”

Pastors Kerry and Chris Shook, in their Book: “One Month To Live: 30 Days to a No Regrets Life” say that they watched many people make real change WHEN they realized that their time was short.

“People would do the things they always wanted to do, and say things they had always wanted to say,” Shook said. “They’d ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness more freely. They took more risks. It seemed like they had this whole new clarity on their priorities, and we just began to ask ourselves, ‘Why wait? Why can’t we live this way all the time?’”

I think this is a profound and sobering question, don’t you?

As I read over my letters to my precious family members my only concern was their continued faith in Christ, their relational decisions for their wives, choosing a life with a legacy, and challenging them all to continue to love others until we would meet again. Those are still the key priorities in my heart.

The question of how much time I have to live could be hypothetical; and yet only God knows the time and the hour that He will call us home….so we never know for sure!  That being said, to know what is most important to us is key to having a ” no regrets” life!

So, I ask the question again:  If you only had one month left to live, where would you put your energy?

1.  What people would you re-engage with, love on, forgive, be bold in sharing your faith with, or re-express your love and appreciation for their impact on your life?

2.  What activities would you put aside in order to put your best energy toward key priorities?  A favorite hike, best cup of coffee, writing your thoughts, spending time surrounded by incredible worship music to fill your soul, or being brave enough to try something you’ve always wanted to try?

3.  In relation to your faith~ would you tuck under God’s protective wings anew? would you choose to spend quiet time praying and letting Him speak to you? Would your need to know Him heighten in light of knowing you have a month to live?

Most of us will never get forwarned that our last days are upon us so why do we wait to make the choices that really matter?

At a recent memorial for a wonderful man; his daughter read an email she had sent to her father months before he passed (he died suddenly for an unexpected disease), she had simply felt prompted to express to her parents how much she appreciated them.  She listed every trip, funny memory, acts of love, and things that meant the world to her. As she shared her most private thoughts with hundreds of attendees I could tell that she was glad she was sharing with us what she HAD shared with him rather than sharing with us what she had WISHED she had shared with him!  We never know, do we?

 freemanX-Gifts

 

 

The Measure of a Man~~Endings can be Unexpected.

This afternoon I attended a memorial that I would never have anticipated.  The service was for a man, mid 60’s, full of life, personality, music, and fun! When I was told he had suddenly passed away– well, it took my breath away!

When my sons were in High School, this man’s daughter attended the same High School.  Our kids were involved in the same music and drama departments, so Greg and I often sat shoulder to shoulder with this couple as we all faithfully attended  so many of our “kids” events!  He loved his family–it was as so evident!

About 2 years ago, during a church service I saw he and his wife across the aisle; they may have been attending our church for a while but it was the first time I had seen them there.  Little did I know then that this precious man was on a journey to know Christ in a new and deeply profound way!  It was only a couple of months later that Greg and I got to witness him being baptised in water professing his deep committment to Christ.  Yes, there were tears!

What meant the most to me was that his two adult children were at the baptism to support their dad in his faith.  I remember him, with tears in his eyes, saying that it was the rich committment to God that he had seen in his kids that had helped him come to a new place of trust and faith in the Lord. His only regret had been that He hadn’t had a faith strong enough to lead THEM into a deeper walk. What was happening in his spirit was real and everyone who knew him could see it.

It wasn’t long before he and his wife Cathy began to be a part of a small group as well as serving at the church Coffee Corner!  We had the joy of hearing this gentleman play piano for worship on numerous occasions; his face just beaming.

Earlier this year he had given himself permission to go on a Holy Land tour with our church; this had been on his bucket list!!  The trip was emotional and meaningful for him, even causing him to kiss the steps where he had learned that Jesus had walked.

Most recently he had become a grandpa; a great joy…..so many wonderful experiences had come full circle.

Who would have known that today a memorial would have been held to celebrate his life!  And that’s where you and I are all affected…….We don’t know how much time we have with those we love, nor do we know when the Lord will take US home…..

While I listened to the heartfelt and profound thoughts of his adult daughter and son I was so struck by the fact that, though he was not a perfect man, he made choices in his life that have left a huge legacy for his family…and a huge hole in our community. He cared for people, he lit up a room when he entered it, he took time to pour into people ” just because”…no agenda.  He was passionate about life, the health of our country, pouring into the youth of our community from teenagers on down to toddlers. He love his wife and kids; attending each and every meaningful event, planned numberous vacations to build rich memories and a passion for life! He was a faithful husband, father, friend, businessman, and community leader.

As friends and family took the microphone to share personal thoughts the words “caring, kind, funny, honest, faithful, passionate, and loving” were repeated over and over again. But-what I heard from those that knew him best was that he had really found joy, hope, and peace in his new and profound relationship with Christ.  Comitting His life to Christ, walking in Grace, learning that God is trustworthy, and understanding that He had been marvelously and miraculously saved by God, had made all the difference.  I don’t know this, but I can imagine he had wished he had walked in this rich relationship with God much earlier in his life!

For all of us the question is, Have we made the most important things a priority?  Are we seeking to know Christ more every day? Are we being truly present with family and friends? Are we making sure that those we love KNOW how much we love them and why we appreciate and respect them?  Don’t wait! Let’s re-focus today ~~ we truly do not know what tomorrow may bring.

Bill- you will be missed. In the words of your family~ “We trust that in heaven you are playing a keyboard and joking with the angels.”

We will see you again.

IMG_8391

Who you are today has generational impact~

10645014_10204705688266071_2698525197241061972_n

Over the weekend we had the joy and privilege of celebrating my parents 60th Wedding Anniversary.  What a meaningful time.  There were tears, laughter, dancing, and lots of love expressed as the evening went on. One of our guests pointed out a very obvious fact; if my parents had not met and married 24 of us would not be here today!  Think about that; all of our lives stem from their love!!

10406577_10204708312491675_8330583625779440529_n

As four generations gathered together it was clear to see the impact my parents have had on all our lives; their rich committment and love for Christ and one another has produced a family built on those same commitments.  Their willingness to work hard in the trenches to build and maintain a loving marriage was not easy and yet they forged ahead through good times and bad. The marriages of their daughters and grandchildren are built on those same commitments; we all plan to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversaries~ Lord willing. 🙂

Here’s a truth for us all~ the choices we make today impact the next generation. Whether you are married or not, have even experienced divorce, we can make a committment today to live a life of legacy.  Our choices, words, commitments, and behaviours will trickle down into the generation that will follow us.  Whether we are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or friend~ our choices today will have lasting impact.

“No matter who we are, where we live, or what our goals may be, we all have one thing in common: a heritage. That is, a social, emotional and spiritual legacy passed on from parent to child. Every one of us is passed a heritage, lives out a heritage, and gives a heritage to our family. It’s not an option. Parents always pass to their children a legacy … good, bad or some of both.”  by J. Otis Ledbetter, Kurt Bruner

It was a proud weekend for us as we all gathered in a circle to pray a prayer of thankfulness for our heritage~ and now the responsibility is on our generation to carry the legacy we’ve been richly given on to our children and grandchildren.

“The choices we make about the lives we live determine the kinds of legacies we leave.”Travis Smiley

 

 

Things we might regret~

images

This past week I had the privilege of traveling with my mother and her sister on a road trip to see one of their lifelong friends a few hours away.  This would be a 3 day trip full of laughter, meaningful conversations, shared memories from days gone by, and lots of reminiscing.   I enjoyed the time I had with them all; each of them are so precious to me.  One of the comments was that “time has just gone by so very quickly”, I even see this in my own life as I am celebrating 30 years of marriage this week.  Life does indeed move forward quickly.

Since I returned from the road trip I have been looking at my own life and asking the question, “am I doing all I can to live this life well, with purpose and meaning?”  As I think about that question my answer is “yes, some of the time.” I could do better.

I began to ponder the question, “What might we all regret when we get into our twilight years?”  and I came up with a list of things to consider.

1.  Not stopping to appreciate the “moment”.  Living life so busy-minded that we miss so many amazing moments all around us.

2.  Not traveling when we could have.  Seeing and experiencing other cultures makes a huge difference in our world view and can create memories to last forever.

3.  Holding grudges.  How sad to live life as a hostage to hurt feelings! Gotta let it go!

4.  Not having taken time to get to know God~ to invite Him into our lives. He gave us the very breath we breathe; how amazing to have a life knowing and trusting in Him.

5.  Not having taken time to volunteer.  Life is so much richer when we take time to come alongside those wanting to make a difference!

6.  Not spending intentional time with loved ones.  It’s a sad truth to realize that we don’t know how long we get to have those we love in our lives.  It’s best not to put relationships off “till tomorrow”.

7.  Caring too much what others think.   We will never please everyone all the time.  As much as we may try, there will always be those who see us through a filter that we cannot control.  Care more about being the best YOU that you can be!

8.  Working too much.   Decide when then work day needs to be done.  Disengage and fill your life with life-giving activities and people.

9.  Never having taken risks to pursue a dream.   Do you have a dream in your heart? Are you playing it so safe that your dream will never be realized?

10. Worrying too much.   Life is complicated and uncertain.  All of us could focus on areas of concern and find ourselves consumed with fear and worry.  However, worry robs us of joy.  We will regret having spent our days burdened and concerned.

It was fun to hear of all the ways my mom and her sister intentionally built memories from childhood till now.  When life was hard for them; they created space for joy and laughter.  When life has been joy-filled they have intentionally celebrated those moments with gratefulness.  No matter what stage of life you may be in; ask yourself if there’s anything on my list that YOU may regret someday.  If there is there’s no time like the present to turn it around! 🙂

Could It Be Time For A Needed Break?

 

index

More often than not, we finally take a break long after the need for it began to arise!  However, what would it look like if we would give ourselves permission to take a break BEFORE we needed it!  Well, perhaps it would be helpful to list some of the telling signs that show us that we are “spent”:

1.  Even upon rising in the morning we feel a sense of dread rather than hope and anticipation. We dread the tasks of the day;we just feel tired.

2.  We find ourselves having a shorter fuse than we normally have. We will react strongly to situations that we would have navigated better when we had greater life balance.

3.  We start to sabotage the “good systems” we have had in place~ excercise, rest, quiet time with the Lord, and “screen free” time. We make excuses saying that we just don’t feel like taking the time.

4.  Often our food choices start to waver.  We start eating foods we know make us feel bad. We tell ourselves “We’ll start eating better on Monday”.

5.  We can begin to feel apathetic.  We can waste our time surfing the web, watching mindless television, ignoring  phone calls, and even turning down invitations from friends.

These are just a few of the signs that we are in need of a break!

Now sometimes we need a break at a time when we cannot take a vacation; cannot disengage from our responsibilities. So, how can we find ways to re-group and catch our breath?  Here’s a few:

1.  Get offline.  If we are overwhelmed the last thing we need is to burden ourselves with media information, mindless games, and even an over-dose of Facebook.  We need to give ourself a chance to breathe!

2.  Take a “staycation”.  Use local attractions to your benefit; live music, picnic in a park, go to a Museum, take a hike, rent a Kayak, take a cooking class, simply take the opportunity to make a refreshing memory.  It’s amazing how activities like these lift our spirits and give us a fresh attitude.

3.  Read or watch something light-hearted~ something that causes rich laughter.

4.  Take a spiritual retreat.  Set aside a full day – somewhere private or peaceful where there would be time to rest, read inspirational thoughts, pray, journal, eat chocolate, a dream again.

5.  Grant permission to say “No.”    We are often exhausted by maintaining activities that have served their time.  Allowing yourself to re-think the activities that fill your weeks and to say “No” to create greater bandwidth is a gift you give yourself!

For all of us; learning when enough is enough will be key. Learning to recognize when our energy is expiring will help us to take that needed break BEFORE we need that break!!  🙂

Skills for Life!

 

 images

My husband and I enjoyed the opportunity to train passionate leaders in the skills needed to coach people well.  We loved getting to hear their stories, experiences, and anticipation for their opportunities in the season ahead.  Some of these leaders could retire; and yet they are looking for new ways to impact lives in this fresh season, while others desired to gain greater leadership skills to strengthen their present leadership. Whatever the motivations were we knew they would benefit from the training they received.

Throughout the training I kept realizing that the tools we were passing on are actually tools for everyday life, for everyone! So, I thought I’d take a moment to pass some of them on to you!

1.  Choosing to be a person of Character~our character is displayed in our life, leadership, communication, choices, and emotional responses.  If we commit to intentionally choosing to have character when faced with life’s opportunities and obstacles we will have greater success in all we do.

2. Utilize Good Questions~ It’s so easy in our day-to-day lives to talk a lot, share our thoughts, and give our opinions.  However, the most effective way to understand those around us is to ask good questions; lots of them.  Learning to hear the thoughts, experiences, and dreams of those around us will help us to have greater success in all our relationships.  James 1:19 says; ” Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak…….”

3.  Learn to use Active Listening~  Active listening is simply a tool we like to use to help us to be sure we’ve listened well to those we are leading, coaching, and building relationships with.  Basically it requires a person to listen well and to be able to repeat back by simply saying ” so what I’m hearing you say is………”     The value to entering conversations with Listening in mind is that it shows respect, helps clarify what’s being shared, and it defuses emotions when the topic is challenging.   So often we move through our daily conversations without really hearing, truly understanding, or gaining good clarity.  Using this tool as a coach in invaluable, yet using it in everyday life will give all of us greater success in all our relational connections.

4.  Build accountability into your life~Whenever people are isolated they will become unhealthy in many ways. All of us were made to be in relationship; to learn from one another, grow together, challenge one another, and cheer for one another.  However, it’s easy to keep our relationships only surface deep, not allowing one or two trusting individuals in to provide rich accountability for us.   Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Having accountability built into our lives will keep us on track; will help us to live and lead well.

5.  Keep energy renewal as a regular part of your life~ Every day we expend energy and so often we can keep our nose to the grind and just “press through” our busy schedules thinking we will take a break when we can…….but this is rarely successful.  We were made to take a “sabbath”.  God knew it and dropped it right in the 10 Commandments.  When we fail to renew ourselves we do exactly what the stewardess on your airline flight directs you to do ” put the oxygen mask on YOURSELF before you attempt to help others.”  We can’t meet the needs all around us if we are without air!!  Take time to rest, exercise, spend time with the Lord, engage in a hobby, laugh, and eat well.  These regular practices will impact your life more than you can imagine. And those around you will benefit as well. 🙂

These “Coaching” tips, if applied, will affect every area of your life! So dive in during these summer months and begin to count the fresh WINS in your life!