Paralyzing Fear~

I had it all planned out! Three glorious days in the sun and then I’d fly into Bend from Seattle around 11:30 pm Friday night.  There was clearly enough time to get a good nights rest, get up early on Saturday, and attend our son’s graduation from George Fox University (Redmond Campus) where he was receiving his Masters in Education.

It was 11:30 pm in Seattle when they cancelled the flight! ( I had already been waiting for the flight for 4 hours!) We were politely told that the airline would pay for our hotel and that we would get home safe and sound around 4:30 pm Saturday. Um….no….may son is graduating at 9am!!

Tears began to trickle down my face as I beat myself up for having even gone away for a few days! If I thought this could happen I would never have gone!! Two sweet young gals in line began asking me why I was so full of tears; they were so compassionate.  As we neared the desk to receive our vouchers for our hotel I had a gal from the airline tap me on the shoulder asking if I was the lady with the son graduating in the morning?

Apparently, one of the young gals in line had gone over to the gate where they were boarding the last passengers who were headed to Eugene.  This 11:45 flight had ONE seat left. This young lady had appealed on my behalf and got me on that last seat on that plane! Remarkable! I was so grateful.

So, Plan B:  I will get to Eugene, rent a car, get a room, sleep a little and then head to Redmond for the graduation!!  Uh – oh~ got to Eugene, it’s 12:15 am and they can’t find a car to rent to me!  Finally~ I drive away from the airport in a sturdy SUV in search of a room for the night!   It’s 12:30. After an exhaustive search I find that there is no room in Eugene because 7,000 women have gathered for a Beth Moore conference!!

Now my cell phone is almost without power so I don’t want to go over the Cascades alone at 1:00 am -alone-without a phone! Plan C~  I decide to take Hwy 5 and head to Salem, get a room for a couple hours, rest, and then head to Redmond for the graduation.  After a long drive I arrive in Salem around 2:45 am.  I have a tiny bit of power on my phone and I see a message from my husband letting me know that he has been calling all over town and there is only ONE hotel room in Salem, it is reserved for me.  I have no idea where the hotel is and now my phone is dead!  I look for something that is open to ask for directions but I find nothing.  Literally~ I pulled over to the side of the road-tired & scared- and I cry out to God begging for Him to help me! Crazy as it sounds I immediately felt a fresh sense of resolve, drove a couple of blocks and saw the lights of the Hotel I was looking for!

At 3:30am I clicked off the light thanking God for this much needed rest and for His hand of safety over me. Up at 5:30 and off to Redmond for Dave’s graduation; got there 15 minutes early!! Cried the moment I saw him standing there in his cap and gown!

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I know this is a long story; but there is a big part that I left out of the details.

  All of my life I have been unable to drive in uncertain places, especially at night. Navigating the unknown has thrown me into panic attacks….so I never even attempt it, an embarrassing and crippling fear!  This crazy fear has kept me from many wonderful road trips, adventures, and business opportunities.  I had no idea that God was going to “give me the opportunity ” to address this fear so dramatically but He sure did!

I learned a lot about myself that night but more about God~He never left me, His comfort over-whelmed me, His favor blessed me, and (with help from my hubby) God even got me to the Hotel! Best of all~I made it to graduation in the nick of time! 🙂

Perhaps you have a fear that paralyzes you, like I do.  I pray you can believe that if you are  given the “opportunity” to address it God will never leave your side, and He will make you stronger and more able!

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

It’s all a matter of perspective~

Every one of us sees life though our own personal filter.  Our past experiences, hurts, persuasions, faith, and traditions can lead us to come to conclusions in our minds about people or situations around us.   Remember the saying ” there are two sides to every story?”.  It’s true.

Sometimes we come to conclusions or judgements based on what we “think we see”.  However, when seeing a picture of a small iceberg we may fail to recognize  the magnitude of what’s truly there.  Remember the Titanic?

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All of us interact with people and information daily and I imagine we all want to have good clarity and clear understanding. However, sometimes we are too close to the situation to have a balanced perspective.  The statement ” you cannot see the forest for the trees”  expresses this challenge.  Google Earth is so interesting because it can give you a macro perspective and yet also visually take you to a specific address on the planet! Very cool!  Yet, this exemplifies 2 very different perspectives.

Perhaps this year, before we find ourselves making “snap judgements” or coming to conclusions about people or situations too hastily we could take a little extra time to gather fresh information, look through a new lens, and seek to be mindful that we may not have all the information needed; there just might be elements we simply do not see.

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People who look through keyholes are apt to get the idea that most things are keyhole shaped.  ~Author Unknown

Enjoy a fresh perspective today!! 🙂

Proverbs 18:15 says:  Intelligent people are always eager and ready to learn.

A Care~Filled Christmas.

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After sharing a wonderful evening with one of my marvelous daughter-in-laws we began talking about the holiday season and the many people we knew who were facing harsh challenges at this time.

The holidays don’t always represent joy and laughter for everyone. For some it can be a hardship financially, relationally, and emotionally. So how can we truly care for those facing a difficult Christmas season? How can we be be a blessing, make a difference, even if the can’t fix the challenge others are facing?

Well, if we are willing to take a “care-filled” approach to the month of December, if we chose to be mindful of those around us, there will be numerous opportunities to be an encouragement.

For instance;  a smile, a card, a coffee date, a meal, visit to an elderly person who is alone, cleaning a house for an overwhelmed mother, babysitting for a couple who “need” a date, choosing to purchase gifts for the many community “giving trees”, or showing appreciation for those who serve us all year; teachers, mail-workers, hairstylist. These soft touches mean a lot!

Perhaps you have the capacity to do something to actually impact the challenges others may be facing; pay an electric bill, buy groceries for an empty pantry, or give a single mom enough help to provide “Christmas” for her kids.

Take a little inventory and ask yourself if there could be something you could do to celebrate the holidays in a “Care-Filled” way……..If you do you could run the risk of having the most satisfying Christmas you have ever known. The fact is that even if you are one of those who are struggling, choosing to be a blessing where you can will bring you joy and lift the “blues” away!

Happy “Care-filled ” holidays to each and every one of you! 🙂

Tips to Successful Relationships~

Relationships matter!

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. AND–Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

Lessons from Yosemite.

We had heard that Vernal Falls in Yosemite was a beautiful sight, just a short mile and half hike to see it! We had half a day to “play” in the valley this past weekend before a family wedding, so Greg and I decided to go take a look.

When we starting out we walked on a paved surface, we passed people of all ages and languages. We enjoyed views of the valley below as we meandered along at a leisurely pace. Eventually the pavement ended and the surface became a little more rocky, and a little steeper. By the time we had reached this point we were growing in our excitement to see the falls; we were committed to going all the way!!

Within a quarter mile the hike changed dramatically as the path led us up a path that caused us to climb nearly 1200 ft. in a one mile stretch! YES!! practically straight up! Well cut stone steps and handrails placed where needed were helpful to the journey ahead but there was no escalator; we had to place one foot in front of the other to get to the top!

About half the way up, feeling like my heart would beat right out of my chest, I had to remind myself of the value of the goal ahead of me. Did I really want to see the Falls, because I could just buy a postcard at the gift shop! Hmmmmm…….I could stop if I wanted to.  As I looked at the stair-step path in front of me I realized how much like “life” this hike truly was!

Every worthy goal requires steps.  If I want to grow in a new area of my life, achieve any new abilities, attain any lofty purposes , it will require steps that may often tax my will to stay the course.  I will have to decide along the way not allow myself the freedom to return to the way things have always been, or to stop short of the goals that I’ve longed to attain.

The commitment to continue the climb outweighed my pending fatigue and within minutes I could hear the rumble of the waterfall; this spurred me on.  Step by step got us closer to the top.

Peeking over the waterfall to the vast beauty of the Yosemite Valley had been worth every ounce of muscle it took to climb to see it!  Incredible.

Are there goals ahead of you that seem to be taking too long, expending more energy than you had anticipated, or that you simply find challenging to remain committed to?
Keep in mind the sense of satisfaction you will have if you stay the course and walk out the needed steps! Keep your goals where you can see them and march forward…the “view” will be wonderful!

Oh to be a little more like Piper~~

As we stepped onto the Boat on a brisk Alaskan morning full of anticipation for 3 days of catching some “big” Halibut, we were introduced to Piper.  Piper’s role in our adventure was to be a deckhand to our Captain as we traveled to and from our fishing destination as well as supporting all the needs that arose as 6 people fished at the same time. ( Lines tangled, fish coming in all at the same time, assistance to those whose arms were just to weary after 10 minutes of reeling in a rowdy fish, etc.)

Over a 3 day period I had the pleasure of watching this young college student as she fulfilled her role with gusto; she worked tirelessly and managed to have a wonderfully positive, enthusiastic, and kind response at all times.  Those things were so great and I respected her so much for her commitment to our “good” experience.

However, what I observed in her that impressed me the most was her TEACHABLE SPIRIT.  Even with her best efforts, mistakes and missteps were made during especially crazy moments like the time we pulled in a 225 lb Halibut!! When the Captain shared with her what he needed from her in order for them to function as a safe team Piper never became defensive, never pouted, never allowed herself to let her mood and desire to serve slip~~not once. She wanted to learn to do the job well.

A TEACHABLE SPIRIT is a beautiful thing!

Following our last day of fishing we heading to a packaging company to pay to have our fish processed, frozen, and prepared for us to take home on the airplane the next day.  A young gal began to work with us, she seemed pleasant. As we began to work out the details and costs with her she became irritable and sassy as she said “I know what I’m doing” only to charge us a fee that would have been a $75.00 loss for her company. As she huffed and puffed, occasionally talking to other colleagues about random topics she finally, in a disrespectful tone said ” I know what I am doing, do you want me to get someone else…?” To which we replied “yes”.  She stomped off and called her supervisor who, after helping us, could see that this young gal did not know what she was doing and in fact, apologized for her since she was a new employee.

I found my experience with these two young ladies markedly different. One, wanting to learn, to do a job well, and to serve those on the boat with her best efforts.  The other, wanting to be right, satisfied with being sloppy in her role, and unconcerned that she was serving clients poorly and disrespectfully.  Again I was reminded of the sweetness of a TEACHABLE SPIRIT.

I was left to ponder~~do I have a teachable spirit?  Am I willing to be a lifetime learner?  Do I allow my unwillingness to grow and change impact those around me?

To all those questions I thought to myself~~Let me be a bit more like Piper!!

How about you?  Do you have a teachable spirit or do you dig in, acting like you have it all figured out?  It’s a good question worth assessing…………nothing sweeter than a TEACHABLE SPIRIT.

“Health” Club~~

One of my favorite jobs these days is working with a great team at our local health club. It is in this role that we get to serve and support our members in various and often times, creative ways.  What I love the most is seeing the effort the members make to become or stay healthy; it’s inspiring…especially those amazing folks who are standing at the door at 5:15 am! Wow!

So what really is HEALTHY?

The Dictionary says “a sound and vigorous mind, healthy recreations, prosperous or sound, robust, good well-being, and restorative in nature.”

These terms churn up many thoughts as I take inventory of my own life.  Am I healthy?

1. Do I have a vigorous  mind?  do I allow concerns and fears to cause anxiety and restlessness within me? do I take the time to read, learn, dream, or try new things?

2. Do I have healthy recreations?  do I give myself permission to take time away from my diligent work to regroup, refresh?

3.  Is my life prosperous or sound?  do I make intentional decisions to use my time in a way that prospers my family, faith ,  and finances?

4.  Do I have a strong sense of well-being?  Do I surround myself with healthy people? do I speak encouragements to myself or do I feel critical of who I am?  Do I feel my life has value?

5.  Is my lifestyle restorative?  do I live a life that depletes me and those around me? do I run in a manic pace? or do I live life with a rhythm that allows me to work hard and yet still remain balanced?

Being healthy is so much more than what you weigh, how big your muscles are, or what your BMI is…though these elements do matter there is such a broader sense of what it truly means to be a healthy person.

Are YOU healthy?  Ponder the questions I have asked myself and if you see a need to make some changes then bravely do so!

This is your new healthy season! 🙂

Big Hairy Audacious Goal~

I imagine every leader I have had the joy of coaching would  laugh a “knowing” laugh as they read the words “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” or “BHAGS” because every year around this time we have a fresh conversation about the new year ahead.  I am someone who firmly believes in setting goals, taking action, and  pursuing new ideas.  But, a BHAG , to me, is that vision, that desire, that wish, that hope , that is simply too big for me to attain on my own.  It is something that I can get excited about but also clearly know that without outside reinforcement; it could be impossible to achieve.

This is where it can get really exciting! As we allow ourselves to have fresh, big vision, to dream, to consider outstanding possibilities – we become hope filled afresh and anew.  When we allow ourselves to ponder a “BHAG”, we keep our eyes open, watchful for the possibilities, poised and ready to move forward should the opportunities present themselves.  When we share our “BHAGS” with those we know and love, and as we begin to pray about those dreams, passions, ideas bursting in our hearts things really begin to happen; I have seen it over and over and over in the lives of those I have been privileged to serve.  What joy it has been to look back over a year, where a “BHAG” has been regularly present in the life of a leader, and with astonishment we see the fulfillment of a fantastic vision, goal, or hope.

Perhaps your Big Hairy Audacious Goal is a great job, marriage, a vacation, to write a book~~ I could go on and on…the possibilities are limitless.  When you look toward 1012 would you allow yourself to dream again, to get excited about fresh possibilities?  Write your “BHAG” down, share it with others, pray about it, and remain poised to step into the possibilities that arise……You will be astounded at the result!

Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Matthew 7: 9-11 Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Two years ago I had a Big Hairy Audacious Goal to go to France on my 50th Birthday. I talked about it, told my sister who resided in France at the time that I would see her soon, I even prayed that I would be able to have dinner in the Eiffel Tower.  Guess what? That very year one of my sisters won a trip to France and asked me to join her. What a thrill for us all as we shared precious memories in Paris and a fantastic meal in the Eiffel Tower!

What’s your BHAG for 2011?  I have some great dreams in my head and heart~ Can’t wait to see what happens. 

Believe again. 🙂

NAVIGATING THE ROOTS~

I live in Bend, Oregon where Mountain biking is incredibly popular and years back when our boys were younger, we all went out for a mountain bike ride.  It was a beautiful day and we headed out.  We rode along the Deschutes River enjoying all its beauty, passed wildlife and other bikers as we moved on down the trail.  I loved the wide open spaces where I could foresee a curve in the road, another rider coming my way, or I could simply be ready to navigate the big roots growing out of the old trees out into the trail.  I found it more challenging to maneuver through the tighter spots without stopping, tipping, or bumping into something.

It was a fun ride all in all and we headed down the very last leg of the trail without any real mishaps. However, as I headed around the last corner my tire caught the edge of a large root and as it did I threw on the brakes–too hard—-and flipped myself over the handlebars and kept my face down knowing the bike was going to come down on top of me, and it did.  I didn’t break any bones but I still have scars on my  body from the fall.  That darn root!

Sometimes life can be a bit like my bike ride.  Whether you are navigating a new marriage, being a new mama, becoming an empty nester, changing jobs, dealing with illness, the death of a loved one, or financial crisis,  it takes energy and focus to walk it out. The path is a little easier to manage when we are able to see whats ahead and prepare for the challenges. It’s those darn roots around those tight corners that can catch us unaware and its in those time that we need the Lords direction to guide us; to brush the dirt off our hands, mending the  wounds as we get back up and press on again.

I’ve hit a few “roots” this year, bumped along, gaining some scars along the way. Through all of it I am learning to make a conscious effort to prepare as best I can, but also learning to trust that God sees the “roots” I will encounter and will use them for my good.

I don’t imagine I am the only one who has “tried to navigate the tight spots and hit a few roots along the way”.  For you I wish you renewed joy and peace as you pick yourself up, shake off the dust, and get back on that “bike” and ride again.  You never know–there might be a beautiful , refreshing meadow around the next bend rather than that darn root!  🙂

What Would You LOVE to be doing right now?

This month Oprah has a really good article in her magazine talking about the need in women to find something they are passionate about.

In her article she lays out 4 good steps in moving toward a life of greater passion and engagement.

Step ONE: Find your Passion: How do you want to spend your one and only life? What activities my you light up, what would you love to do if you simply had the time or finances to pursue it??

Step TWO: Take stock of your Strengths:  What do you have a natural knack to do? What would your friends say you excel in?  What feels “fanciful” but exhilarating all at the same time?

Step THREE:  Tap Into your Motivation:  What do you have an incentive to do?  What is your motivation Style? Passion? Affirmation? Purpose? What makes YOU excited?

Step FOUR: GO! : Step out in the areas you have passion, risk, try, pursue, GO!!  Keep your eyes squarly fixed on the Goal; not on the Obstacle.

My favorite part of the article talked about having Idea parties; a gathering of shared ideas with the understanding that as we share our dreams those around us , people will work hard to help us reach those goals; they may know someone, have a connection that propels us into the vision buried deep within us!!  Isolation creates discouragement–connection creates opportunities!!

Ann Curry, from the Today show, expressed recently that she needed to be encouraged; given permission, to take a couple days off, away, to journal and focus on those things that matter most!  Without that permission she would never have stepped into the incredible world of photography where she spends 2 hours a week: it has meant the world to her. She has found a fresh niche’!!!

So, Today, assess if you are living a life full of passion or have you grown discouraged, applying limits to the love and desires God has put into you heart?

Let’s Trust God~~ He is up to something so good!! so good!!!

Girls~~ live your lives with passion and push through those things that have held you back over the past 5 years! Live large, dream big! Put yourselves on your radar! 🙂