Even the best laid plans…………………

I love the leaders I serve, so when one of them invites me to join them in an event that’s meaningful to them and those they love~~ well, I’m IN!  Last week was one of those times!  Thursday I was up early, packed and ready to fly to Dallas, TX to be a part of a wonderful Christmas event in an amazing church in Keller, TX.

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Weather reports showed that there “would be” a change in the weather; it would be cold. I was disappointed but knew I would be so involved with my leader and her event that I wouldn’t really notice that the weather had turned cold.  Then… the ICY SLEET fell upon the state of Texas and everything changed.  The moment the plane touched down in Texas I received a text letting me know that the event I was planning to attend was cancelled.

Hmmmm…….Lord, I have flown all the way here….You know everything……..Help me know your purposes in my stay here.

From my hotel window I watched car after car spin and crash into guardrails and other cars, heard the warnings from newscasters to just stay OFF the roads, and the continuing announcements that almost every flight out of Dallas was cancelled and would be cancelled for some time.

Lord, I am all by myself here. I wanted to be a blessing but now feel like I am a burden~~ah, the best laid plans!

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Life throws us lots of twists and turns doesn’t it? Weather, finances, health, even relationships have elements that we simply cannot always control! Finding value, even in the challenge, is a choice we can make.

Let me be totally honest; there were moments this week when the tears were flowing at the thought that getting home would be nearly impossible, moments where I tried to make sense of the fact that I was sitting alone in a lovely hotel without a purpose to my stay….

However, amidst all the hysterics of roads and flights; I was able to get home at midnight last night! 🙂

This makes me wonder about God’s view of things;  was the unplanned conversation I had with a woman who had just lost her son to cancer meaningful?  Was spending time with a precious couple new to my church/community on the plane worth being stranded?  How about the young man who forged his way in the sleet to open the BUCKLE store he managed? we had a long conversation about his journey to find his faith in Christ; his father was a pastor? Did that conversation matter in God’s view of things?

In my desire to catch my 3:30 flight home out of Dallas, I went to the airport around 9:30…….Just to be diligent.  I had a 5 hour wait and needed to power up my phone a couple of times. One of those times there was a man sitting next to me who had been trying to get home for 3 days! He had waited hours and hours before being told his flight was cancelled.  Needless to say –He was tired. Sitting there he began talking about his family; especially his oldest daughter whose choices caused him heartache. Our conversation was meaningful and emotional for him.  Sadly – his flight was again cancelled, so I said that I thought we ought to go to my ticket counter and see if he could get on my flight! Amazingly, the airline employee smiled at him and said “I just had a cancellation, you can take that seat!”  He smiled at me and said to me ” you are either magic or blessed!” I told him blessed.  He was home that night!  Hmmmmm……..In God’s view of things, was that man important enough for there to be value in my “stranded” experience?

How about a surprise encounter with two people with whom I have not had reconciliation for a few years showing up for the same flight as me; getting a chance to talk, to show kindness?  Then the lovely older gentleman who was seated to my left on the final leg of my flight. Just a few years ago he had to file bankruptcy as he was a developer in our area when the market hit bottom; he spent a lot of time talking through his sadness about 3 of his colleagues who committed suicide due to feeling hopeless during that season in the economy. We we got off the plane he introduced me as his “new best friend” to his colleague!

Were these conversations of high trust God ordained or just a chance happening?  No, I can’t answer that…I’m asking you; the reader, what you think?  I am still pondering the possibilities…..sometimes I just wonder about those best laid plans…………………!

Psalm 139:16 says “All your days ordained for me are written in your book before one of them came to be.”  Yes, He knew.

If you really knew me you would not like me……………..

How many of us have made mistakes in our lives?  How many of us have baggage that plagues us? How many of us have heard the enemy whisper “if they really knew you they would not like you”?  I have.   This kind of shame can keep us locked up; unable and unwilling to step into opportunities simply because we ask ourselves the question “why me?, I am not worthy!”.

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Years ago I stood before the congregation of our large church where my husband was an Executive Pastor, I shared my story. Everyone has a story!  My story involved a history of a date rape and an abortion at 17 years old! Such a shock to so many that saw me, and my life as perfect; perhaps charmed.

After sharing my story I had over 75 women come to me privately and share that this was similar to their story and they felt shamed and broken! Oh, how the enemy loves to make us feel ruined, soiled, and without value!!  Here is the truth:

We have a God who is full of grace and mercy–God’s mercy is so much richer than the mercy we extend to one another. This is sad, but true!  All of us have regrets and areas of deep sadness. The truth is that our Savior is rich in love, mercy, and grace!

If this resonates with you. If you have challenges or have faced situations where your choices caused great harm; run to the giver of grace and forgiveness! He loves you more than you can ever know!

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Here’s what God’s word says:

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Isaiah 43:25-26

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.  Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Today, sit with Him–let Him love you and breath fresh life into you–today is your day. He loves you.

Important Conversations!

” The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

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I have heard this quote numerous times, I find it incredibly profound every time.  It is never easy to have a difficult conversation.   No one ever wakes up in the morning eager to jump into a discussion that could have an uncertain outcome. No one naturally wants to feel uncomfortable or to create possible conflict. If they do, frankly, then may have other personal issues that need to be dealt with. No~ no one really enjoys a “Crucial Conversation”.

In the Book “Crucial Conversations” the term in the title of the book would be defined as a discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.

In order to navigate relationships in your family, workplace, community, or place of worship there will be times when the need to have a direct conversation will be clearly evident, left unaddressed gaps in relationships, teamwork, or productivity will be the result.

Have you ever gotten a phone call or email that you simply ignored because in order to move forward there would need to be a conversation? Have you ever walked “around” a teammates office so that you could avoid a tough conversation? Have you ever abandoned a friendship because having a hard conversation seemed too challenging?

I have to say YES to all of these situations. In trying to asses “WHY” I would have avoided challenging conversations I would have to discern that it was because I assumed I wouldn’t fare well; that I would cause more trouble.  But often these types of conversations can bring fresh understanding, resolve conflict, and relational rebuilding.

 In considering a crucial conversation we have 3 possibilities:

1.  We can simply avoid them.

2.  We can face them and handle them poorly.

3. We can face them and handle them well.

I feel that most of us would choose either #1 or #3.  Assuming  you have picked #3, I would l like to offer a few suggestions that I have learned in my years of being a Leadership Coach. (I am not an authority by any means; I continue to be a learner!)

Prepare yourself for  the conversation.  What is the end result you desire?  What is the temperament of the individual you need to address? Are you angry? Have you already indited this person?  Can you see your part in the challenge? What words will you use to clearly communicate? Are you prepared to listen?

Set a quality time/place for the conversation. Timing is key when addressing a challenging topic.  I always tell young brides that it is NEVER wise to address challenging topic with their spouse after 8:30-9:00!! Two tired people addressing conflict will rarely provide a positive result!  Does this conversation need to be in private? Do you need a 3rd party present for accountability?

Follow up within 24 hours. It is important be sure that your crucial conversation truly created the clarity needed between every individual involved. Do an understanding check as well as a relational check. Your conversation may not result in complete agreement but see if it has cleared away the intensity of emotion or misunderstanding.

Difficult conversations are necessary as we grow in every area of our lives and the results of having them successfully will empower us to be brave enough, kind enough, and wise enough to address them well.

Are the conversations you’ve been avoiding? Situations that need to be addressed? Relationships that need reconciling? Gaps on your team at work?  Instead of focusing on how negative a crucial conversation could be, consider how much fruitfulness is to be gained. 🙂

Time to sail away from the shore~

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During the past week I came across a quote that caught my attention right away; I felt that it embodied how I feel about this season of life.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

As a young girl I don’t think I would have called myself brave or daring, rather I was most comfortable with things that were steady and safe.  Certainly I could get excited about the “idea” of taking big, bold action but in the end I would always stay safely on shore!

I believe that my fear of failure kept me on tasks and in situations that had fairly sure outcomes, no real risk or adventure involved. I never wanted to feel the weight of personal disappointment nor did I want to disappoint anyone. Thus, I did very little that was competitive in my early years.

In High School I branched out and joined the Swim Team; practicing hard to prepare for the swim meets on the weekends.  I remember one particular swim meet where I realized no one was in the lanes next to me and I felt a twinge of excitement that, perhaps, I was going to be the first one to the finish line. As I pulled to the edge of the pool with all the speed I could muster I popped my head out of the water to find that, actually, I was the last one in! That was my last swim meet.

Today, with years of hindsight under my belt, I fully recognize the value of taking risks, challenging myself, throwing off extreme cautions that choke my ability to dream, and giving myself permission to “fail forward.” Without being free to “sail away from the Harbor” I would never have had the life I have full of rich memories, opportunities, relationships, and fresh challenges!

Everyday I learn that life is short, mistakes only cause me to grow, challenges strengthen my resolve, and risk makes me depend more on God in every way. So, 20 years from now I don’t want a laundry list of things I should have done; wanted to do~yet feared exploring! Rather I would love to have a journal full of memories, experiences, and adventures to recall with satisfaction!

What about you? Playing it safe, hugging the shoreline? Perhaps today is your day to explore what it would look like to “catch the trade winds in your sails.”  Dream big! 🙂