Some Relationships are Worth Extra Effort~

 

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Do you hate conflict? I sure do!! I used to run from it for many years; never expressing myself, wanting to please and appease! But I have learned two things:

1.  It’s so important to address challenges/disagreements in relationships.

2.  It’s so important to be willing to be humble to “not be right” in order to maintain relationships that DO matter.

In my life I am clearly aware that I have friendships/relationships that I want to, well, last forever.  There are times, even in those key relationships, that there may be disagreements.  How do we navigate some of those challenges without losing the friendship? Well, I am still learning.

There are times when it’s important to set boundaries on toxic or untrustworthy relationships…but there are also times when we might want to walk away from a relationship where there has been a challenge and yet, we know in our hearts we want them in our life!

Questions we can ask ourselves in these instances are these:

1. Though there may be a conflict right now, would I be saddened to lose my relationship because of our present challenge?

2.  Could there be a bridge built in our relationship if I humble myself and try to understand the heart and season of my friend?

3. Can I extend grace and am I willing to move forward?

Relationships are so important, take care, wisdom, and a humble heart to navigate~~ but they are worth it!!!

Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

John 15:13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

When Life Feels Uncertain~

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Our lives are full of uncertainty. Pick up a newspaper, watch your evening news!  There’s change and challenge all over the world.  Weather, finances, government policies, and global conflicts swirl around our lives every day. For some, uncertainty at this level has left them paralyzed with anxiety and fear of the future.   Uncertainty is so uncomfortable; our minds want clarity and good closure.  Certainty is almost always preferrable to the unknown!

Yet, we all experience uncertainty in our lives in a more personal way; health diagnosis, job changes, relational challenges, and financial transitions just to name a few.  Times of uncertainty are really challenging to navigate because our head and emotions tend to respond negatively to the discomfort; thus anxiety can set in and hold us captive.

So, how can we find a way to thrive amidst uncertainty?  Is it even possible?  In her blog on uncertainty, Katherine McHugh says “disorienting storms of life are not just about survival, they are about learning to thrive.  It is not in spite of daunting circumstances that we grow, but because of them.”

Scripture puts is this way:

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2

There are many moments of uncertainty in life. There always have been and there always will be. Sometimes things turn out the way you want them to, sometimes they don’t. Yet, accepting the uncertainty rather than trying to fight it, trusting God to guide and lead you, remembering that you cannot predict the outcomes, and watching for opportunities to grow and learn in the middle of uncertain times really helps.

My life has been full of seasons of uncertainty.  I’ve moved 11 times in my marriage, lived in 5 different cities, we pastored in 5 different churches, served 9 years in a non-profit organization, and have built our own Coaching Company from the ground up.  We have faced physical challenges, family changes, and relational transitions.  Many of these seasons of uncertainty left me anxious, fearful, and discouraged as I walked them out.  However, now that I’m older I am able to look back and see how all these situations have played a big part in who I am today.  Some situations turned out as I’d hoped, some disappointed me, and some were a complete surprise to me!

If I could speak into the life of my “younger self” amidst a season of uncertainty I would encourage her to catch her breath, spend time with God, look for the good that can be gleaned, spend time with life-giving people, and fight the urge to need to know NOW!  If I had consistently made those choices I can only imagine that my experience would have been a bit different!

Are you sitting in a season of uncertainty? If you are then it is my prayer that you will begin to walk in greater confidence that there will be a resolve and that there will be “nuggets of wisdom” to pocket in the days ahead.

Remember:

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

 

Be Well~

 

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“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

This verse is action packet with some of the best advice you’ll ever be offered!  Yet, in a world that’s filled with busy schedules, heavy responsibilities,  political posturing, financial challenges, and even relational loss. We find our minds constantly carrying the “burdens of the world”.  I know I sure have to catch myself!

Something we may not truly understand is that focusing on all that is stressful and unhappy can actually make us sick!!

In a recent Washington Post article, Kendall Powell stated;  “If stress is chronic every day, pumping out hormones without any escaping or fighting, then it’s not good for your immune system,” comparing its response to infection. The bottom line is that “chronic stress makes it more likely you become infected and that infections will last longer and be nastier.”

WebMD says is this way; “Chronic worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. The problem occurs when fight or flight is triggered daily by excessive worrying and anxiety. All of these systems interact and are profoundly influenced by your coping style and your psychological state. It isn’t the stress that makes you ill. Rather, it’s the effect responses such as excessive worrying and anxiety have on these various interacting systems that can bring on the physical illness.”

Our Creator knows us very, very well. He knew that excessive worry and concern would cause us to live our lives partly broken, unable to become the best versions of ourselves. I imagine that is why He filled His Word with verses like these:

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Isaiah  41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
So,
How are you today?  Is it time to lay down the heavy backpack of stress and worry?  Time to turn and lay those things that burden your soul on the altar; choosing to put renewed trust in the One who knows you the best?  I challenge you, and myself today, to CHOOSE TO BE WELL!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navigating Transitions~

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Life transitions have a crazy way of causing some emotional imbalance–for almost all of us! Transitions, even happy ones, can be stressful and bring up some surprising mixed emotions.  These reactions can often time come as a surprise to us, causing us to feel especially sensitive for seemingly “no reason at all.” Moving to a new city, becoming a parent, selling the family home, transitioning from one job to another, marriage, or a personal loss can all create the opportunity for us to feel imbalanced for a while.

I graduated from my University, married, moved away from my family and friends to a new city, and became a mother within a 16 month period of time. Even though there was so much that was good and new –my equilibrium was off and I had to find a way to create a new normal for myself.  It was an emotional time.  My life since that time has had numerous changes and transitions. Each time it gets a little easier to understand how these transitions affects me and I work harder at being proactive during this time.  I am going to pass a few of these tips on to you!

1.  Transitions can shake your sense of IDENTITY.    It’s natural for us to define ourselves by the job we have, church we attend, neighborhood we live in, family we belong to, or financial status we have known.  When these kinds of elements get shaken up we have to find a new normal.  During this particular time, be gracious with yourself and others, remain consistent to keep your spiritual/self-care routines in place, and  surround yourself with life-giving people. These efforts will remind you that you are not defined by external titles or experiences.

2. A transition can be a wonderful opportunity for GROWTH.  Sometimes transitions give us an opportunity to see areas of ourselves that need attention. Fear, lack of faith, uncertainty, even anger have roots in us somewhere. Being keenly aware of ourselves in this season we can take a good look at these responses and begin to take some steps to address and challenge ourselves to grow. Transitions are a great time to begin new habits.

3. Keep reminding yourself WHY you chose this transition.  In my coaching I encourage my clients to assess their current situation and cast a clear vision for where they want to go.  Though this kind of thinking can take take time and consideration; the greater challenge is in the in-between…actually applying the steps that will make the transition complete.  Matthew Kelly in his book “Leading Through Change” says, “It is often said that people hate change, but that is not true.  People love change; they just don’t like the time of transition.”  If, during our transition we keep the end goal in sight, celebrate incremental changes along the way, and remind ourselves of the fruitfulness of our transition, we will navigate this time so much better.  However, I have also walked through seasons where I didn’t choose the transition, wouldn’t have asked for it, and didn’t understand it’s value at the time. Yet, in hindsight I have learned to find the value even in those tough situations. I call those moments “looking for the pony in the poop”.  There is always something to learn, nuggets of growth, even in un-chosen transition.

4.  Remember your past transitions and apply some of the skills you learned during that time.  No matter what our lives look like, we have all walked through transitions since we were children.  There are ways that we have responded, lessons we have learned, and maturity gained that, if we reflect on those times, can even give us keen insight to our present transition.  I love to journal for this reason in that it captures past responses in my life reminding me of tools and understanding gained during a previous transitional time.

5.  Don’t leave God out of the equation.  No one cares or knows us more than our heavenly Father.  Draw close to him in these time.  Sit still with Him; breath and wait.  Trust that He will see you through.

Transitions can be invigorating, uncertain, challenging, even terrifying for some.  Yet, we all face transitions.  May you find great success in the days ahead as you apply some of these small principles for great success.

                                                                          🙂

 

Being Family!

It’s shocking but true, Family members don’t always get along!

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One of the most difficult matters to confront with respect to challenging family relationships is that we don’t control the entire relationship ourselves. Whether the relationship thrives or withers isn’t up to us alone. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. So often, family members get stuck. Despite our best intentions, we can become stubborn and defensive with one another.

When major family relationship problems are encountered, it’s common to attempt a control strategy. We try to get the other person to change, to understand the situation from our point of view.  Sometimes this approach can work if we are compelling and sincere enough.  But many times it just leads to frustration.  A second strategy might be to simply accept the other person, difficulties and all, just as they are! Yet, this could also result in frustration, as there may not be any true resolve within our hearts.

There is, however, a third alternative for those times when changing the other person & accepting the other person as-is are both unfruitful. That option is to change us in order to solve the problem. This requires that we redefine the problem as an internal one instead of an external one; meaning that I must change my attitude and filter in order to understand my family member and their point of view.

As long as we keep looking outside ourselves for the answers, we may continually find ourselves frustrated by our family members choices or decisions; always finding conflict with OUR personal values and choices. Once we start looking inside ourselves for the problem, we might find it easier to bring resolution. This does not imply “agreement”, simply relational resolution.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a close family that is genuinely supportive of the person you are, that’s wonderful, and in that situation, you’ll likely find the closeness of your family to be a tremendous source of strength to you! However, in many families, not all members are close or in agreement as to how life should be lived; thus conflict can occur, values differences cause hurt.

So, if we find ourselves in a family where some of the members are experiencing distance or challenge, it may feel impossible to be conflict-free. However, if we keep an open mind and a forgiving spirit we will keep the count of offenses lower; which will ultimately help in keeping family peace.

One way of experiencing “Family” in a fresh way is to give ourselves the freedom to re-define family to include those with whom we share our lives; kindred relationships that often times feel closer than our natural born families.  To nurture these relationships and invite them into the gaps that have been left vacant by our natural born family members who have chosen to remain distant, can be incredibly sweet and ultimately, rewarding.

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My point is simply this: Life is short.  We are born into families and it is our responsibility to navigate them as best, as kindly, as honestly as we can. If we find that after all is said and done we cannot call those family relationships “close”…invite trusted, caring friends into your “family circle” and share your life richly with them.

As I said in my first paragraph:  “Whether the relationship thrives or withers isn’t up to us alone. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango.”  Do you feel connected to family? Have you sought understanding and clarity? Do you have others who love and care for you that have “become” family to you?  Life is short, family matters!

Get Off The Plane!

I was happy to push my way through my morning “fog” as the alarm went off at 4am!  Quietly I got myself ready to catch my plane; quick kiss for my hubby, and out the door towards the airport.  It was so early that I only passed 3 or 4 cars along the way!!  Made my way through security, grabbed some coffee and it was time to board. Made it into my seat, grabbed my reading materials, and settled in for a short flight to Salt Lake City. I had planned my timing well; perfect!

Then…..after a 20 minute wait, we are told that the plane is having mechanical issues; should only take 15 more minutes. After 20 more minutes we are told we were going to have to get off the plane till further notice. Amidst the sound of huge groans and cell phones being quickly used; we walked back into the secure area of the airport. One thing I already knew~I was NOT going to make my connecting flight! This was also the plight of most every other passenger! After another 30 minutes we re-boarded the aircraft and headed toward our destination.

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After a smooth flight to Salt Lake City; it was 10:00 am and time to meet with the folks at the Delta Customer service to see what I needed to do now.  I was joined by, at least, 50 other passengers.  I was told to make my self comfortable as I would not be flying out until 5pm!

For work I often travel and I realize that flights are rarely smooth; more often than not there will be challenges to face~ Cancelled flights, late flights, bumpy flights, or flights that are simply too full!

What I found interesting is what I observed while watching my fellow passengers respond to this “inconvenience” in their schedule.  Some were furious; yelling at the flight attendants, angrily calling Delta to give them a piece of their mind, so aggravated that their well-planned day had been interrupted!  I thought to myself “if there was a problem with the plane then taking a nose-dive into the Utah back country would have been a greater problem”……but I thought I ought to keep those thoughts to myself! 🙂

Last week I had worked hard, grabbed some time for recreation, and was heading home to make dinner and relax with my husband–that was the plan.  While driving home in busy traffic a large vehicle slammed into the back of my car! Ugh! This was not part of the day I had planned! Damage to the car was minimal but now my well planned day was ruined! How should I respond?

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Life has interruptions; it really does. Do we keep any margins between our well-planned deadlines and destinations to make room for the “un-planned?” Would an interruption cause you to move to anger, anxiety, or disrespect for those around you? Or could you take a breath, pray, look at this opportunity to be patient, to slow down, and to see what God’s PLAN B just might be?

Interesting thoughts from Rick Warren:  Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” [Psalm 139:16]

If He knows your days; Perhaps we can trust Him with the interruptions or the Plan B. 🙂

Keeping Score~

I remember when our boys were young and our son David was playing soccer.  We’d arrive at the field with our 2nd graders; low back chairs and coffee. Parents of each team would line up on either side of the field ready to cheer on their team; their child. As the boys would run up and down the field it was always exciting to see them get the ball into the goal!

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However, with this age group the rule was that Soccer Is FUN!! We don’t keep score!! I clearly understand the value behind this idea, but I know for certain that every parent was diligently and fervently keeping score!!!  Even me!!  There MUST be a winner, right?

Keeping score gives games a competitive angle; creates a bit of tension, makes it fun! Imagine football or baseball without keeping score! boring!

Keeping score can be a great thing accept in one arena: Relationships!

In relationships having a competitive edge, a bit of tension really isn’t fun.  Interestingly enough though, just like with those childhood soccer games, we have a natural inclination to keep score.

In the Blog “Learn This” the writer shares some great thoughts: “Be willing to offer your help, give of your time, pay for lunch, make an apology first, share some vulnerable personal stories, step out of your comfort zone, make a step in faith, be brave, be first and be generous. Do this without keeping score, offer it every chance you get. Put the effort into your relationships without expectation!  Everything about this aproach changes your attitude, increases your outlook, and keeps you joy filled!  Every personal connection you encounter is an opportunity in your life, both with business colleagues, friendships and family, to learn to NOT keep score!  A chance to forgive quickly and give freely.”

Keeping score causes resentment, irritation, and self-righteousness; all negative! Rather, love without expectation, give freely, and choose peace over being “right”. In doing so…well in Soccer terms~~ YOU WIN!! 🙂

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So, Ya Had A Bad Day!

Early this morning I got up considering what to write about in my Blog today. I had so many ideas, passions, and lessons learned that I planned on sharing.

 I headed to work. With windows down on this warm June morning I was looking at the mountains, grateful for the beauty I get to experience here in Bend. My heart was full as I thought about my family whispering prayers to the Lord for their week.  May they be so blessed!

THEN~~As I headed down the street to enter a roundabout that would take me to work there were cars were backed up a bit due to others either heading to work or taking their children to school. All of a sudden my peaceful experience was shattered as a man in a jeep behind me began leaning on his horn angry that he had to wait.  Every time he felt a car hadn’t entered the roundabout fast enough he screamed a string of obscenities that would embarrass even a sailor!

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As I looked in my rear-view mirror I could see his white knuckles angrily grasping his steering wheel; he wasn’t interested on his impact on others whatsoever! This morning was about him, and he wasn’t getting his way!

In the wake of his rage filled outbursts , I needed to re-group emotionally; pulling myself back together after 5 minutes of shocking adult behavior. Would I choose to give this man the freedom to ruin my day?  Would I allow him to steal my joy? I had a choice to make. I chose joy……

This experience reminded me that all too often we begin a day, purposeful and focused, ready to make a difference in our world and THEN~ we get bad news, we hear a criticism about us or our family, someone sends a hurtful email, or the World news is discouraging……do we allow these things to suck the peace out of our day? Steal our joy?  Sadly enough, we often do.

What would it look like if we “chose” Joy?  If we made an intentional effort to focus on the goodness of God, the kindness we share with friends and family, and the knowledge that God has our life in His hands? What would it look life if we refused to let anyone or anything control our emotional negatively?

In our lives challenges with come at us sideways at times; let’s stay in the drivers seat of our heart! Lead on with Joy!

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Don’t think He doesn’t hear YOU!

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The temperatures were rising as my friend and I made our way to one of the many pools at the resort where we were staying recently.  As we entered the gate we saw an adorable sight! A mama Duck and 4 daring, tiny ( days old) baby ducks! Really so cute!!    However, as I watched this sight for a short period of time I began to realize what was really going on.

This mama and her babies had been in the pool a really long time; too long.  Mama duck kept jumping up on the cement border of the pool, then turning to her babies in a sound that convinced me she was begging them to jump too.  The jump was too high, too far.  The babies were tired.

Well, my friend and I were so concerned so we used numerous methods to “try” and help them climb out on their own.  A pool float, and chair leaning into the pool, a pool noodle set as an angle that would have allowed them to simply walk out!  There was a way out and yet they stayed far away from these different pieces of equipment not realizing that they were there for there own good!!

Frustrated I sat in my lounge chair assuming that “nature” would figure a way out, I should let nature take it’s course.   I tried to ignore their constant peeping, tried not to acknowledge their attempts to climb out revealed by a tiny knowing splash! Ugh, I could not stand the thought of those little babies drowning on my watch!!

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With all the resolve I could muster I stepped into the pool determined to lift these precious little ones out of certain failure.  When they saw me coming they were so afraid, fiercely peddling those tiny feet trying desperately to get away! Didn’t they know I had a plan for their good~~ to save them???

Finally I was able to “corner” those tiny babies in my much bigger hands and lift them out to safety! Whew!  When their “feet” hit the dry pavement they scurried away into the bushes leaving the pool area! They were Free!! I was relieved.

I always consider all the life lessons around me; fiercely looking for a deeper truth hidden there and God is always faithful to reveal precious thoughts to me!!

So often we stay in unhealthy situations: relationships, jobs, or ministries because we feel we cannot find a way out. The leap seems to high, just impossible!  The Lord in His goodness often provides “escape” opportunities; ways to move out of a season that is creating undo weariness, and many times we just can’t see it! We may even see those options as something to fear! ( like the floating device the ducks “could ” have utilized but were deathly afraid of!!

We serve a compassionate God and even when we miss all the signs He will reach down and “pluck us out” of a situation and put our feet on a firmer foundation. Initially we may feel shocked or uncertain -yet hindsight will reveal the depth of His love for us!  I have seen this so many times in my life. Situations that seemed like an end was actually a fresh start on “dry ground!”.

Never imagine that your Heavenly Father is not aware of how fast you are peddling and that, like me listening to the peeps of weary babies, He misses your tears. He does not!  So I encourage you to look at your life with a fresh filter! If you recognize you are weary and a change needs to come; Trust that He is setting out tools of escape for you and if you face a dramatic ending to something unhealthy consider that with His big hands He has lifted you out of the water because His heart was breaking at your cries for help!  He can’t rest when His children weep.

Trust that if He hears you He will not leave the “pool” until He has seen you through!! He is so good.  Let that soak in! 🙂

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