I have a story!

I love a good story! How about you?

Over the course of my life I have found myself encouraged, inspired, challenged, humbled, and mentored through stories of real life experiences that individuals were brave enough to express. Whether the story is of hardship, pain, and loss or if the story is of courage, valor, or success~still my life has been impacted by the telling of a story.

It is remarkable the way we can learn, feel, or be moved to action by what others learn through the changes and challenges others experience in their lives. We can make good choices; even avoid pitfalls simply by hearing of the missteps  and consequences others.  I love this because WE ALL HAVE A STORY; we all have the opportunity to impact others with what our stories have taught us.

Yesterday I ran into a friend I had not seen in years, a fabulous worship leader. However, over the past 10 years she has been plagued with a disease that makes it almost impossible for her to even talk. My friend began to tell me her story, pushing out the words as best she could. She spoke of the incredible challenge and discouragement of losing the freedom to “do” what she had done for the Lord all of her life.  But, she lit up as she talked of what she has been learning and that’s when the rich nuggets of wisdom began to come forth.  I said to her “you need to write your story”.  I new that her experience would encourage fresh growth in others.

Another dear friend has battled being overweight all her life and she has been passionately diligent over the past two years to lose the weight and become a healthier and more confident woman ~  She has taken her story to her blog; honestly exposing her challenges and failures while also celebrating her wins!  I have already heard that many woman have been inspired to follow in her footsteps….to make changes because of her story!

A gal I was privileged to coach 4 years ago walked through the loss of her beloved husband while away in Hawaii celebrating their 30th anniversary; they finished snorkeling and moments later he had a heart attack right there on the beach! We spent a lot of time talking through the first 2 years of her loss; there were hard adjustments, changes, and hurts that arose through that year. Hearing how these elements made her feel helped me to more clearly understand how clumsy I can be while helping others navigate through the loss of a loved one.  Her story really helped me to grow and change.

What’s your story? We all have one ( or easily MORE than just one story).  Are you brave enough to tell it or write it?  An honest story told to the right listener or reader can be life changing!

Take time to ponder your life/ your story.  Pay attention to the nuggets of Gold you have learned from them; and at the right time…give them as away as a gift!

The incredible VALUE of shared experiences~

“But we can’t right now, our lives are too busy!”

  ” I know we have some money put away but let’s just wait and see how this year goes!” 

“I’m sorry but  this is a stressful season at work!”

All valid reasons, They all make sense but perhaps we could address the core issue.

I was blessed to be raised in a family where shared experiences: meals, game nights, camping, and many other options were a rich value. These experiences tended to be the glue that connected our hearts, caused laughter, and helped remind us that we were family, even during those tough teen years.

In like fashion, my husband and I have taken time and resources to build the tradition of shared experiences into the DNA of our family; it is our prayer that they will do the same with their own families.

However, I often hear from friends and colleagues that their lives are too busy, finances too tight, relationships too challenged, and ideas too hard to come by when looking into the possibility of a vacation, or other experience opportunities.

I used to have the idea that making memories could be something we can do “later on”, in a few years, down the road but after losing a precious family member last year my filter has done a 180 degree change.  None of us can count on tomorrow, nor can we count on the fact that we will always have all our family members or our health.

You might say that this is a fearful approach to life; pessimistic perhaps, but I would differ with you and would clarify that it is due diligence to “seize the day”.  Lay down those aforementioned excuses and plan a vacation, have game nights, go on hikes, cook together, dream together, do life together.  The real cost is your time and today is all you know for sure.

Over 24 months ago we took an untimely (and a kind of expensive) trip to Southern California to visit precious family there, went to Disneyland with them and had a very special shared experience with them all……   It was the last time I got to laugh with Christopher……………….It is more priceless a memory than I could have ever imagined!

We are embarking on the doorway of summer!! Use this time to lay down the cell phone, computer, daily worries and make fresh memories and meaningful connections with those you have the privilege to love!! Make a summer list and begin today!

“LIFE” happens to everyone

As a young girl in a strict thinking church denomination I can remember hearing of the illnesses or challenges in the lives of people in our church.  Conversations involving these folks would inevitably be followed with questions like, “I wonder what God is teaching them”, “they must have sin in their life” or “satan is really attacking them.”    Now, It isn’t my place to say whether those statements had any truth in those situations, yet as I watched my life and the lives of so many others I am much more reticent to attach those thoughts to someones life challenge.

I have seen hurtful and unkind people soar, while kind, giving people face challenge.  I have seen careless people experience financial blessing while frugal friends have faced financial loss.  I have seen folks who have a passion to have a large family experience pregnancy disappointments while others who are irresponsible with the children they already have appear to have a seamless time having more children.  I have watched people who focus on their physical health; making good choices in both food and exercise, face cancer or heart disease while others without concern for their health live to be 99!

“LIFE” happens to everyone.

We all face challenges in this life~ we have all looked toward heaven in wonderment asking God “but Why Lord? “.  Those who would be honest might speak of feeling abandoned by God, over-looked somehow, or perhaps have even questioned whether God exists at all.

As I interact with so many precious people on a regular basis I hear heart wrenching stories of loss and challenge. I remember last year when my nephew was so brutally taken from us all…I spent weeks crying out to God and asking “Why?”.  However, I am learning more and more that God never promised that we would be untouched by the challenges in this life.  He never expressed that an unchallenged life is proof that we belong to Him, nor that a challenged life is proof of His abandonment.

I address this simply to set the “plumb line” straight again. The Word says we will face trials and challenges, we will not always be in favor with people, we have bodies that may not be in perfect health in this life….BUT…………..

John 16:33 says; “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Romans 14 says ” Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Hebrews 13:5 says ” I will never leave you OR forsake you.”

Just those few verses alert me to the fact that He knew our questions would come; He is not surprised when we don’t understand the challenges we are facing. Yet, I imagine in those times that His compassion is over-flowing on our behalf.

As I again reflect back on those questions that often overshadow our judgement of one another as we watch each other navigate perilous waters; let’s be grace filled and slow to judge the circumstances as a “sin issue” or a “teaching opportunity ” for God.

Because….as we all know….”LIFE” happens to everyone.

If today “LIFE” is happening to you~ then I wish you His strength and grace today.

“Sorry, You’re Not In The Club!”

I have always been fascinated by people~~ I love their stories, experiences, uniqueness’s, and even the challenges they may bring. Yet there is a type of behavior that I have observed; even been impacted by that I believe ought to be addressed or at least considered….

In High School students join a team, the choir, or a club….they share experiences, laughter, challenges, and responsibilities and then, for some reason or another, they withdraw from their involvement and to their surprise they experience the feeling of “Sorry, Your Not In The Club!”.  Since they are no longer a participant in that group  the interactions begin to become stilted, even awkward or non-existent. I watched this happen over and over in college as well.

Imagine my naive surprise when my husband and I stepped out into church ministry –serving our hearts out, watching others work and serve hard as well, only to watch the same behavior surface when we or others sensed God moving in a fresh direction. Obedience to what He desired caused many who served faithfully and selflessly to experience the feeling of “Sorry, You’re Not In The Club.” People became distant, relationships strained, and a new awkwardness set in…..

In business I have watched this apply as well; as those who have served on teams, building the goals of the Company and supporting the vision, move in a fresh direction after years of service that same awkward sense sets in once again. And I am left to wonder why?

Should we not value the times we have shared and served together? Should we not be reminded by fond memories of experiences and challenges weathered together? Should we not allow our teammates to fly free, to grow, and to chart a fresh course for their lives with the joy of knowing they will always matter to us?

I often ponder these questions!  What about you? What are your thoughts on this?

As I turn to the Word of God I find true nuggets hidden in the pages!

Proverbs 17:17
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 20:6
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?

Proverbs 17:17

A Friend Loves at all times. 

I wonder if we could stretch harder to stay connected to those who have served alongside our lives, ministries, or jobs remaining so grateful to who they have been in our lives and for all they have done whether in our church, community, or place of work!

As the silly song from a Disney movie expresses:

Boy, and as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You’re gonna see it’s our destiny
You’ve got a friend in me 🙂

Swing Dancing~

Last night Greg and I had the pleasure of joining some special friends for a Swing Dance class followed by 2 hours of music and dancing.  Dancing well is not something Greg and I have shared in our 27 years of marriage.  Having been in our teens in the 1970’s our real experience with dancing came from dances and Proms where large groups gathered in rooms moving around independently to the sounds of rock music. A very different experience than what we were exposed to last night.

Swing Dancing is the synergy between partners where you have a point of connect at the hand but where the man leads and the woman follows his lead.  The teacher in the class brought out the differences in how we, as partners, respond to that structure, saying that it is hard for many women to “wait” until her male partner leads her to the next step in the dance.

This was so true!!  Greg would take steps for me to follow and since I thought I could anticipate what his next step would be I would simply move into a new move only to find that it was not the step he had chosen!  We experienced frustration as we both tried to “lead”. 🙂   As the evening went on we began to practice and navigate this new experience and managed to come away from the evening with our own “signature move” and a lot of fun and laughter.

Interestingly enough, this experience completely related to how I respond to my own life and the “steps” I take each day. I can start my day asking the Lord to lead and guide my steps; fully committing to wait for Him to lead me through the motions He would like me to take as I navigate the season I am in.  Often, I find myself down a trail or on a mission that He never led me to….I just anticipated that He was so I moved on ahead!! To learn to truly “WAIT” for Him to lead me in the same way I needed to “WAIT” for Greg’s steps to be the mirror for my own in our Swing Dance lesson takes real patience, real trust.

I am going to ponder that this week as I think about my day through the filter of my Swing Dance experience.  Isn’t funny how God can teach us about ourselves through these simple experiences?  I love how He does that!

Have a good week of “following His footsteps!”  🙂

O Christmas Tree~

Throughout my life there has been a great deal of tradition surrounding the finding, decorating, and sitting around our yearly Christmas tree. From the time I was a child my folks would pack we six girls into our station wagon and head to a tree farm to find that perfect tree.  We would wander around looking for that “perfect tree” amidst laughter and warm hot chocolate.

When we moved from California to Central Oregon our search for that perfect tree became much more intense as we would trudge through snow, fighting the wind and cold, to bring home a tree that would light up our holiday living room. This tradition brings so many wonderful memories of laughter and snowball fights to mind.

However, I am reminded of a year when we didn’t have a Christmas tree; we didn’t really even have a home. We were living in 3 small trailers and our clothes were being held in two damp tents as we waited for our new house to be built; a project that had gone 3 months longer than anticipated.

My parents, prior to Christmas morning had gone up to our “yet unfinished” home taking Christmas balls and bows with them. Grabbing a tall ladder they decorated the steps with bright adornment in an effort to give their girls a “Christmas tree”.

Imagine our surprise Christmas morning!  We laughed with delight and heartily appreciated the creative efforts that our  parents had put forth, it was a great day of memory making!

Having traditions matters.  In a world where there is an abundance of change, having traditions can pull a family together to share memories that are both historical and new!  They remind us together of what we have shared in the past but give us the opportunity to  build on those traditions in fresh ways if need ~~like the ladder!

This Holiday season give yourself the chance to choose or create some traditions of your own! Whether baking Christmas cookies, Playing “ding , dong ditch” as you bless your neighbors with surprises, drive around looking at all the lighted homes, following the advent calendar as a family, or getting a Christmas tree.  Simply build shared experiences that you can count on each year!  You will find that these are the memories that will warm your heart and fill you with joy-filled reflection in the years to come.

What are your traditions?

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. 🙂


I am always so elated when Halloween is over because it gives me glorious permission to focus on my two favorite holiday: Thanksgiving and Christmas!

This has been a year that has “rocked” my world at so many deep levels that I find myself thankful in fresh ways and for things  I may have taken for granted before.  As I sit here to reflect on all that my heart is Thank-Filled for I feel a grand list coming on:

1.  The Joy in knowing that Heaven is a real place and that as family and friends we will TRULY gather together there again for a grand reunion. Chris, I know you are having a grand adventure, we’ll join you in the journey someday!

2.  For my family with all our uniqueness~ we have love for another and will stand in the gap for each other whenever the need arises. We have weathered challenges and losses and have linked arms to help each other through. My sisters are precious , each one creative and caring.  My brother in laws are good men, and each niece and Nephew ( and their wives) are beyond precious and I am so proud of who they are.

3. For my sons and their wives who are loving, kind, thoughtful, creative and hard-working people.  I am blessed that they are also my friends. I love Sushi, Catan, River walks, coffee dates, and spontaneous connections that always fill my cup!

4. For my parents who are counselors, friends, fellow Christ-followers, and mentors: oh how I love ever moment I get to spend making memories with them. Thankful for Canasta, painting, and weekly chats on the phone.

5.  Friends.  Oh my, what special friends we have, there would not be room to name them all or express their value in my (our) life but these “heroes” have filled our life with joy, support, encouragement, laughter, thoughtfulness, good advice, and many shared memories. Absolutely priceless!

6. For the work I have been able to do and for the leaders I have been privileged to serve. I have learned so much, cared deeply, watched great growth, and celebrated incredible wins with some fantastic leaders and my life is so rich because of them.

7.  For my church which is filled with lovely people.  The longer I attend, the more folks I get to know, the more my faith in the word “church family” is restored.  Our pastor is full of integrity and isn’t afraid to speak truth with compassion. Their love and support for my family this year has been so rich.

8.  For my husband Greg who is a dear friend and a leader I admire. Greg’s love for our children, extended family, our friends, and our community is admirable. I have observed Greg lead through times of calm and in a season of storms and have watched his integrity remain in tact. I look forward to watching him soar in the year ahead. I will be his cheerleader all along the way!

9. For a Savior who meets me in the middle of the night to dry my tears.  For a Savior who carries me when I am simply too weary, too hurt, too sad, or too confused to move forward. For a Savior who gives me opportunities to learn, to grow, to stretch, and to know His heart in so many fresh way.  But mostly, for a Savior who redeemed me, freely, and gives me fresh hope every day. I am over-whelmed by Him.

I am glad the Thanksgiving season gives me a chance to “LIST” my thankfulness; having done so today has filled my heart and reminded me that I am so rich.  Perhaps just the task of creating a list for yourself would give you  a fresh perspective, and a renewed sense of Thankfulness…

…..Joy comes in the Morning……….

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


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! 🙂