For Women Only!

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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 )
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A Tiny Quail and a Biblical Truth~

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Over the weekend Greg and I took a little time to work in our backyard.  The weather has been especially hot so we were trying to finish the work quickly.  Greg moved from bush to bush trimming branches that looked wayward while I made my way around the yard pulling random weeds.

All of a sudden a mother Quail flew to the top of the fence in front of me, basically yelling at me!  The behaviour continued for some time as she moved side to side along the fence screaming at me to “go away”….she was frantic!

Greg and I could not figure out what was upsetting this mama bird ~ we didn’t see any babies near by but we decided to move away from where she was to calm her down.    Within minutes the tiniest baby Quail (seriously not bigger than the tip of my thumb) came running along the fence, darted underneath and ran to safety.  So tiny and seemingly insignificant but that mama knew one of her babies was missing.  She had many other babies to be mindful of yet she left them to go and find this tiny, lost baby.

As I pondered what I had seen I was quickly reminded of the story of the Good Shepherd that was willing to leave his flock to find the one tiny lamb that had gotten into harms way.

Matthew 18:12-14 says:

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray and gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost?

And if it should be that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost.

Just so it is not the will of My Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost and perish.”

Do you ever feel insignificant? forgotten?  Do you ever wonder if God is mindful of you?  Does He hear you?  Would He notice if you were “lost”?  Would He fight for you?

Pastor Rick Warren expresses this thought about how mindful God is about us:

“What does it mean that God is mindful of you? It means he’s alert, he’s focused, he’s paying attention. When God is mindful of you, he notices everything in your life. Matthew 10:19-30 says not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without God noticing. He even numbers every hair on your head. That’s how close God pays attention to you.”

May you be encouraged today by knowing you and I are never insignificant to the God who is always mindful of us.  🙂

We need Sage Seniors~

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Last night my husband and I led a marriage event at our local church. We were teaching couples in the “Art” of Active Listening.  I had imagined that the bulk of our attendance would be younger couples eager to tackle the challenges of  newer marriages.  Imagine my surprise when numerous mature couples began to fill the building.  I was very blessed to recognize that these older folks still wanted to work on their marriages! wow!  I can only imagine the example this set for our younger generation.  We need our sage seniors in our lives!

I was tickled that my own parents who have been married 60 years attended this event led by us, their own kids!  In talking with them they expressed sincerely that they felt the tool we were teaching would bring value to them as well.  The interesting twist here is this:  one of the couples at our table whose relationship has been a very difficult one, made the effort to come but had nowhere for their 4 month old baby.  My mother, sensing the need for this couple to have an opportunity to grow, asked to hold this little girl who fell asleep in her arms for 90 minutes, giving them a chance to focus on their relationship. The young mom cried tears of gratefulness for the love she had been shown.  We need sage seniors in our lives!

I am certain that God intended us to have impact far into our twilight years.  I believe our impact can only be richer, wiser, and more valuable.   For those of you who are presently Sage Seniors I ask that you continue to pour into our lives. Pray for us and speak wisdom into our life situations.  For those of us who are knocking on the door of our seniors years I ask that we keep looking for places to have impact, to mentor, to use the lessons we’ve learned to help others.  For the younger generation I would challenge you to seek out the wisdom of those seniors in your sphere of life.  In areas of finances, marriage, or faith, these sage seniors in your life can help you to miss some of the mistakes others have made.

Psalm 92:14

They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green.

Job 12:12

Wisdom is with aged people, With long life comes understanding.

Such a great reminder! 🙂

Being honest about Christmas~

It’s Christmastime with all the lights, gifts, celebrations, cards, and busy schedules.  All around us we are besieged by products adds, Christmas carols, and the reminder that “If we order today our gifts can STILL arrive by Christmas day!”  Hurry ~~ Hurry!

Let me be honest, I love the Christmas season as much as anybody, yet, as I pay attention to the people around me I am tenderized by the fact that there are many facing challenges and changes IN THE MIDST of this season. Not everyone is experiencing a Facebook Christmas full of photos of fun, food, and laughter.

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I am aware of folks facing incredible physical challenges, financial pressure, relational pain, loss, and loneliness. For them, the holidays present unique challenges. I see the commercials with the children missing their daddies serving in the military; it takes less than one second for my eyes to well up with tears. I watched a man suffering with Parkinson’s disease carefully taking steps down the aisle at the store slowly gathering up family gifts as his energy (not love) drained with every step; tears again.  I read a blog of a colleague whose son has just married and faced a painful surgery to remove an enormous tumor in his brain; my heart breaks for what this young couple is walking through.

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No, I don’t want to write a blog that brings you down! I don’t. Yet if we miss what is really true during this holiday season we will be unable to be ready to respond to the needs around us. I have simply chosen, in this season, to be very mindful of those who serve in customer care during the holidays; I’ve committed not to be too busy that I don’t forget to thank them by name, smile at them, and compliment them.  It has been remarkable how those soft touches have changed their countenance. This is a little thing!

We all face challenging situations; some seasons are harder than others yet these challenges can just seem more pronounced during a season. If you are in a season where you are experiencing health, peace, and joy then CELEBRATE IT! If you are facing a season that feels heavy and challenging, I encourage you to trust in the One who loves you more than you will ever know!  Deuteronomy 31:8 says ” It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”   I just LOVE that!   That is what Christmas is truly all about!

Even as I write I am keenly aware that many of you are in a tough season, some of you have just passed though challenges, and there will be others whose lives feel incredibly easy at this time.  I wish all of you true joy in whatever situation you find yourself this year.

Perhaps this season, and all year through, we could find the good tension between celebrating our own lives and remaining mindful of those whose lives are facing great challenge.  Let’s be human.

Merry meaningful Christmas to you, my friends.

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. 🙂

It starts with a ” Yes!”~

Last weekend I got to be part of a beautiful group of women who had a vision to bless those experiencing life challenges: a Day of Pampering.  The incredible woman who initially had the idea that this would bring value and blessing to many is not devoid of challenges of her own.  However, when the idea (need) was birthed in her; she said YES!

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Out of her “YES!” she was able to passionately involve numerous other women to share their gifts and talents to bless and encourage others; it was impacting on us all.  It started with a “Yes!”.

Two weeks ago Greg and I had the joy of heading to Louisiana to spend time with a courageous group of men and women who are dedicated to pursuing their faith.  All of them, at some point in their lives, were faced with the challenge of whether or not they would say “YES!” to their calling.  The “Yes!” has meant hard work, willingness to learn, and a life spent making a difference in the lives of their communities.  Due to their ‘YES!” they have impacted the lives of thousands for the good; bringing hope, healing, and faith to many.  It started with a “Yes!”

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This week we had the honor of spending time in Nashville, TN with the Cutco/Vector Company and learned again of the value of “Yes!”  The President actually took over a failing company, invested all he had, applied ingenuity and creativity to build the strong, sustainable company they have today.  The greatest impact of the “Yes!” however is not only their world class product but rather, the incredible impact on young people.  Their sales force is built on college students whom they teach to sell, public speak, lead, and live life and leadership with intentionality!  This great company has impacted and continues to impact thousands of young people to grow and learn skills they could never learn in the classroom!  It all started with a “YES!”

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Saying “YES!”  always has some risk attached; some personal cost ~ time, finances, a move, willingness to change, etc.  Yet, if we look at some of the greatest people, greatest ministries, greatest companies, there is a legacy of someone who was willing to be brave and say “YES!”

What about you?  Do you have an idea burning in your heart? An opportunity on the horizon? A dream still unexplored?  Need a tipping point that will drive you to a brave “YES!”?  Focus on the impact of your choice! Lives that will be changed! The legacy you’ll birth!

It starts with a “YES!”  🙂

We are HOME!!! :-)

Honestly, I love the sound of a room full of people sharing a meal, conversation, and hearts!  Nothing fills my soul more!  It is with this heart that I decorated my wonderful new home.  I wanted a place where my loved ones felt at peace, cozy, and welcome.

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It was huge for me to create a space for any children that might enter my home; a place created JUST for them.  Imagine being a child coming into a home without a place to “hang”, to play??  I created that place.

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My husband and I are truly blessed to enjoy the home we have purchased; many miracles have brought us here.  Because of this we know this home will be rich with memories of laughter, tears, teaching, and prayer.

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How about you? Can you see your home as a place of love and warmth? Have you created an atmosphere that would welcome neighbors and friends alike?  Consider seeing your home as a place of love and outreach in a world that often times is cold and closed!

We are the light of the world…….our homes can be a great place to shine!

We are blessed and because of that we pray that we will also bless others.

Good Questions~

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Powerful questions can challenge us, help us move forward, and give us the opportunity to assess our lives, motivations, helping us to understand how & why we sabotage ourselves and how & why we are motivated!!! As a Coach, questions are so incredibly important!!

Here are some good questions:

  • 1.  What do I want?
  • 2.  What is the difference between a wish and a goal?
  • 3.  What keeps me going?
  • 4.  What do I need in order to reach my goals?
  • 5.  What am I choosing this week?
  • 6.  If I were at my best, what would I do right now?
  • 7.  What is it to be exceptional?
  • 8.  How can I recharge my batteries
  • 9.  What am I grateful for?
  • 10. What have I learned about myself?

Ask these questions of yourself, ponder them. What is being revealed about YOU? What helpful truths have you recognized that could help you grow; move forward?

For me, answering these questions is both humbling and clarifying!  Good questions can create fresh understanding.  Ask yourself GREAT questions and watch yourself grow in fresh ways!!

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Keys to key Relationships! (re-post)

Building  Amazing Relationships!

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Relationships can bring us our greatest joys and our deepest wounds. We can’t control how others choose to respond in their relationships with us, but we can establish our own ground rules for having and maintaining quality relationships.

Below are some thoughts to consider as you navigate the relationships in your life:

1.  Surround yourself with positive people- finding like-minded, positive people will fill your cup. Spending the bulk of your time with those who suck the happiness out of you is unwise and unhealthy.

2. Accept people just the way they are – Save yourself the needless stress of trying to change people who don’t want to change. Fight the urge to engage in fruitless conversations, rather look for areas where you can agree and show support.

3. Forgive people and move forward –  holding anger or bitterness affects us much more than the individual we have been hurt by.  Forgiveness is not saying “What you did or said was okay.”  It is saying “I’m not going to let what you did ruin my happiness or steal my joy.” It doesn’t mean you forget it simply means that you choose to let go.

4.   Do little things for those in your life –  A card, a visit, a gift, an email, a text. Simply take opportunities to connect with and appreciate those your care about.  We all feel a little more valuable when we realize that someone has been thinking of us.

5.  Talk a little less, listen a little more –  Our relationships will grow if we move away from being the talker and take the time to listen! A listening ear is the greatest gift we could give to those we love.

6.  Be Loyal – be the kind of person that believes the best about those you love. Everyone needs to know that someone “has their back”. Be that person.

7.  Pick your battlegrounds – don’t pick petty arguments. We aren’t always “right”.  Focus on the things that truly matter and let the small stuff go!

8.  Encourage and cheer them on –  be excited for those you love! Spur them on! Don’t look at their opportunities or dreams with the lens of what it will cost you, rather keep them the priority.

9.  Remember that everyone has baggage –  we all enter relationship with a suitcase filled with past experiences; successes, disappointments, hurts, etc.  Sometimes that “baggage” effects the relationship and needs to be addressed. However, using grace and understanding will always be the most fruitful approach.

10. Let go of friendships that are no longer healthy – some relationships can run their course and a necessary ending needs to take place. To force relationships to continue when the season is over can be exhausting and eventually more harmful than good.  Be willing to appreciate the relationship for what it was, and then release it and move forward.

Relationships are our most valuable assets and worth the effort to keep them strong and healthy! Test these tips out and see if they help create healthier interactions in your relationships!!  Flourish in the days ahead!!