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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We need one another, we really do!

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  I was reminded again this week, through the sad events in Boston, Massachusetts that we really do need one another.  Out of the rubble of lost lives and limbs arose an army of people connected by sadness and grief going above and beyond to make sure they helped and supported every person they possibly could. Strangers housing disoriented families, men carrying children to safe places, and medical professionals jumping in to help wherever they found a need. In times of crisis we really do need one another.

However, in the regular rhythm of our daily lives we really need others as well. From the website “Live your Life well” I saw that research points to the on-going benefits of good social connection:

1.  Social connection brings increased happiness. When you are offered concrete help, emotional support, fresh perspective, wanted advice, and encouraging validation you will find that your emotions will stay more hope-filled then downcast.

2.  Better health is another benefit from being connected to others.  Loneliness is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and depression.

3.  Connecting regularly with others helps us to remember that life isn’t all about our challenges.  When connected to others we are also able to care for their needs, focus on being supportive, and share in our common challenges.  This can help us to have a balance in our own thinking.

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When thinking about friendships, some people think that in order to be less lonely they must be liked by everyone. That’s just not true!  The person who has 4,000 friends on Facebook is not necessarily “connected in relationship”….especially if the bulk of their free time is spent maintaining their Facebook page!  Two or three amazing , trusted friends/family can be all we need to be known, heard, or validated.

Life is busy.  Perhaps this has been an especially crazy season for you and quality connections with others has been tough to find; yet with a time of reflection you would have to honestly say that you have been experiencing some of the symptoms of a disconnect: discouragement, restlessness, isolation, etc.  Perhaps a few of these steps would be helpful in moving you into a place of connectedness:

1.  Make a list of those you would like to connect with, calendar a bi-weekly/monthly  time with them that allows you to spend some quality time.

2.  When spending time with those you value the most: turn off phones and other distracting devices.  Maximize what little time you have!

3.  Listen really well and repeat back what you have heard to be sure you truly understand what is being shared!

4.  Ask for help.  Even great friends will have trouble reading your mind.

5.  Share your appreciation for those you value; you may be thinking it but bridges are built when your actually share it!

6.  Move out of unhealthy relationships to give yourself fresh emotional and time margins to begin to invite quality connections into your life.  Boundaries are a good thing!

We need one another~In our personal lives as well as in a national crisis!  If you have found yourself isolating I beseech you to reach out and invite people IN again. 🙂

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“It is impossible for us to be all we can be in isolation.”  Paula P. Brownlee

Will you really be here for the holidays?

I love this time of year as I gear up for all of my favorite holidays in the coming months.  I anticipate celebrations with friends and family, parties to host and attend, gifts to purchase, wrap, and deliver, & lots of food to prepare. I know it will be a full season of wonderful variables.

However, in the midst of a busy holiday season I am still working, writing, and carrying on with all the responsibilities I normally have on a day to day basis. I face the question; “How can I be fully present in this season rather than being so task driven that I actually miss the valuable moments that come my way? Every year I hear myself saying, “Goodness, the holidays went by so fast!

Whether you’re feeling totally overwhelmed or slightly frustrated as you anticipate the holiday season ahead, it’s easy to lose perspective about what’s most important and valuable to you–your relationships!

Truth is we all spend most of our time in the past or the future, rather than the present moment. What we end up doing is passing through today’s moments on the way to somewhere else and, in doing so, we miss the present moment. That’s how these meaningful memories can end up passing us by!

Benefits of Being in the Moment

  1. Increased enjoyment: We will find that we enjoy life more if we’re fully present rather than having our minds elsewhere. Food tastes better, I have more fun with my family, work is more enjoyable, and laughter is sweeter when I experience them UN-distracted!
  2. Reduced stress. Worrying about the past and future can give us stress. Choosing to give ourselves permission to slow down and focus on “Today” can alleviate the stress of past regrets and the uncertainties of the future.
  3. Better relationships. When we really commit ourselves to being with someone, to listening to them,we are being a better family member, friend, teammate, and even spouse. We have better conversations. We bond with those around us!

“Life brings simple pleasures to us every day. It is up to us to make them wonderful memories.” — Cathy Allen

Enjoy the coming months to the fullest. Slow down and intentionally choose not to be so “busy-minded” but rather give yourself permission to be fully present each day!

…and may this be a very special Holiday season for you!

Can You Fly?

One day a man found a cocoon of a butterfly.   Soon a small opening appeared.  He sat & watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.  Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go any further.

The man decided to help the butterfly so he took a pair of scissors & snipped of the remaining bits of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged quite easily but it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch it, expecting that at any minute the wings would enlarge & expand enough to support the whole body, neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling.  It was NEVER able to fly.

The man in his kindness and haste did not understand:  The restricting cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the opening was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings.  By doing this the butterfly would be ready for flight!

You may have heard this story told over and over; but it’s good to hear it yet again! Character, patience, long-suffering; all the fruits of the Spirit are born out of challenge and adversity. Without those struggles, we wouldn’t grow or tap into our potential.

Certainly, a life without struggles sounds wonderful but we would not be “the best version of ourselves” without those struggles.

Today, you might be facing some real struggles and challenges. Let them make you strong!  Grow into a butterfly and FLY!!!

Galatians 5:22 says,

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”

Whatcha listening to?

This past weekend I had the chance to enjoy a number of hours alone in my car on the way to a very special wedding.  I had my water, a few snacks, and my Ipod with my playlist with all the songs that keep me going when I get out and RUN!  Pop songs, songs with a good beat, fun songs!  None with a bad message but none with a powerful message either ~~just fun.

After a few hours I felt the desire to switch to some old CD’s ( imagine popping in a real CD!!) that I have enjoyed over the past few years~ Chicago, Josh Groban, etc. I sang like I was part of the band and reminisced fondly of “days gone by”.

When I popped in a CD of a sweet old singing group called “Point of Grace”, something different happened my heart. The effect of this music took me from listening with my head, to listening also with my heart!  It took me all of 3 minutes to go from dry-eyed to wiping a tear from my cheek when I heard the words:

“Over time you’ve healed so much in me and I am living proof, that although my darkest hour had come, your light could still shine through.

Though at times it’s just enough to cast a shadow on the wall, I am so grateful that you shine your light on me at all.

Who am I that you would love me so gently? Who am I that you would recognize my name?  Who am I that you would speak to me so softly? Conversations with the Lord most High…who am I?

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. The more I sing that sweet old song the more I understand that I do not comprehend this love that’s coming from your hand!

Who am I…….?

I was again reminded how music that speaks of the truth of who God is, His love, His power, His grace, gets you right down in your soul.  To be reminded again, that I matter to Him was priceless to me.

Though I do love my music with a crazy beat, I’m going to take more time to surround myself with songs that touch my soul, even make me cry ~because in doing so I am reminded of who I am and to whom I belong! I am so grateful.

Whatcha listening to? 🙂

“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.

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! 🙂

Don’t Forget to Laugh!!!!!

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

Laughter is a gift, a necessary gift that helps us navigate loss, challenges, changes, good-byes, and uncertainty.  Laughter is that place where we can go, not to be thoughtless but rather to rise above those things we simply cannot control.

Have you ever laughed so hard that you eyes were full of tears and your stomach began to hurt?  Wasn’t it painfully refreshing?  Memorable?  I have.  I love those times ~~ somehow I believe they are cleansing to a heavy heart.

Perhaps this is a season that has challenged your faith, broken your heart, and overwhelmed you with uncertainties. Laugh!! Find a way to dig deep and laugh with your whole being.  Watch and see if you don’t find yourself feeling lighter, breathing deeper, and being filled with fresh anticipation for the days ahead!!

JUST LAUGH!!!!!