Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Snail Made It To The Ark On Time

Some days I wonder if I'll ever make it. Maybe you do too? There are goals I have, timelines that I've mentally set for myself, and dreams I want to accomplish. When I see those daunting challenges, there are days I am intimidated. Will I ever get there?

My greatest goal is to live with God after my life here on earth. I believe Jesus died on the cross to make that miracle happen. So, above all of my dreams and desires is that one greatest goal - and again, some days I am initimidated. Will I ever get there?

With my failings, my limitations, and my specific and unique personality weaknesses, will my pace be hindered so much that I won't reach that most important goal? Will I ever get there God?

I read a quote that I often think of in moments of anxiety like that. Spiritual reformist and preacher C. H. Spurgeon (1834 - 1892) was quoted as saying "By perserverance, the snail reached the ark".

God's timing was perfect. His patience was perfect. His vision was perfect - even for the slow-paced, small, fragile, weak snail. The snail eventually made it to the ark.

I'm sure the gazelle was there early, the lion arrived proudly, and the birds all made it look easy. But the snail made it before the ark doors closed and the floods began. Perhaps all of the other animals had their heads cranked, positioned to see the shelled creature as it slowly, methodically came up the plank. Perhaps all of the other animals were cheering the snail on as it made its final climb?

What I do know is that God in His perfect timing has kept the ark doors open for me - in my most labored, incremental pace - to make it safely to Him.

I look around at my life and while the circumstances are difficult, I believe in my heart of hearts that I am in the right place and the right time with the right direction. I'm pressing on. I'm on my way home to God and He is patiently waiting for me. He's waiting for you too.

"By perserverance, the snail made it to the ark."

Are YOU coming?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Open Sesame!

Funny. I remember when my now nine year old son first discovered automatic doors at the grocery store. He was only three at the time and we were coming out of Smiths Marketplace here in Utah. Walking by my side as I carried several bags, he happened to wander in his stepping and placed his foot inadvertantly on the pad to the "IN" doors.

Frightened by the swoosh of the doors opening automatically, I tried to explain to him that his little foot created that magic. It was nothing to be afraid of, it was actually very cool. Stepping onto the pad purposefully I showed him again how the process worked.

Then he tried it. And again with a squeal! And again, and again, and again. He was making such a scene by now that people were standing around laughing and pointing at this little guy. Adults and teens hoorayed out loud with him. Watching this toddler discover his affect in this world seemed to entrance all of us!

Seeing my son come to understand the power of his presence in this world - and how his choice affected that world - was fun, exciting and profound.

As adults we often need a reminder - that to open doors we must step first. Our choices OPEN the doors of opportunity. So take a step in faith friend - doors will open magically!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Helliphino Personality Type

I work with many people on different boards and teams and I'm learning how to work effectively with a variety of personalities. Some people are laid back, methodical and analytical. Some are bubbly cheerleader types that inspire and encourage along the way. (Me? I'm there for the party for sure) But there is one personality type that is actually dangerous to most tasks - that's the "Helliphino" personality.

This individual is a powerhouse - full steam ahead - with no clear facts. Zero. And this means disaster.

While good intentioned this personality runs full board into oncoming traffic - fearless - which is good and bad. Good because of the power, bad because the LACK of foresight and blindspots invites problems, liabilities and head on collisions.

Know Thyself. If you are charging full board ahead but missing some essential details in an area of your life, ask for some feedback from other personality types around you. Others may see things you don't.

And if you're working with a Helliphino - carefully fill in the blanks and cover your assets if you know what I mean. They may be great at getting the job done, but poor at seeing the possible fallout. Now you know.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Relationships Are Messy

Feeling troubled about a close relationship a friend told me, "Relationships are messy. Life is messy. If you talk to anyone long enough you find things going on under the surface - everyone is struggling with something on some level."

The more I ponder on that thought the less compelled I feel to judge others. I am messy. My hurts, my anxieties, my path . . . it's been messy. I'm broken in places that I try to hide and run from. A glass house.

But when I accept that yes, I am messy with my own issues - grace appears. It is the balm for that messiness - margin - room - to love other people's emotional messes. Grace endears those messes to me and I love people better. Relationships are messy - the other option is to have none.

Monday, November 24, 2008

All That And A Bag Of Chips

I'm at that age where I realize I'm not all that. A group of teens brush by me at the shopping mall giggling and sharing secrets and it's oh so obvious that I'm now "old".

I dance in the kitchen and my children lovingly roll their eyes and ask me to stop - my moves aren't so cool anymore I guess.

But one thing growing "old" is teaching me - take care of your body! Friends around me (old like me) are now having their prostates checked and their knees going out. Complaints of too much hair on my girlfriend's faces and no more hair on my male friend's heads - signs all around me.

This holiday season I'm giving myself some new gifts. I'm running a 5K on Thanksgiving morning and I'm not having those extra helpings of pie and ice-cream. AND I just signed on with a fitness trainer to run a marathon in 2009. I'm giving myself the gift of health this year.

Health is that one thing that makes everything else so enjoyable. Without it, everything is miserable.

So, this year my goal is to be "all that" MINUS the bag of chips. How about you? Why not give yourself (and the ones you love) the gift of health?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Secret to Juggling

I listened to one of the most amazing professional speakers last night - Dan Clark. He was brilliant, entertaining and profound - what's more, he was personable and approachable. It was wonderful. Perhaps one of the most impactful presentations of my career honestly.

One of the things Dan said in his presentation hit me more on a personal level. As a mother of five children I often feel like I'm juggling errands for my kids, juggling meals for the family, and juggling so and so's this or that . . . always juggling. Dan shared an insight from an evening he spent with one of the world's greatest jugglers. He asked the juggler what was the secret? How do you juggle all of those things at once?

The answer? "You only juggle one at a time."

One at at time? What do you mean? You've got ten tennis balls looping in the air and you say "one at a time"? That makes no sense.

To which the juggler explained - you can only hold one ball in your hand at a time and the let it go. It is now set in motion.

It made me think of those quick interactions with my children. Busy with a million things I don't see the power in those incremental one-on-ones and often quickly toss and grab the next thing. If I realized the power of those few minutes in my hands would I put more in motion than just a mother's checklist of "do you have this" "did you finish that"? The vision of the juggler now has changed my mothering.

Yes, while there still are ten tennis balls in the air, the time in my hand may change the motion of the universe . . . one child at a time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sit Still For This One

"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares."~Henri Nouwen

Some days there is nothing that can be changed about circumstances. Some days there is no new goal that can be chosen, no new strategy to implement, no new hope to be breathed into a situation. Some days it just is what it is . . . hard.

On those days there is no substitute for a friend that just listens. A friend that sits right there with you, pats your knee, and says, "I'm here for you". Too often we rush to the latest Dr. Phil book for advice - when perhaps just being still with a friend in trouble is the best help of all.

Be still with someone who needs you today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Give Me New Eyes

Sitting in the waiting area today I met a woman whose husband had undergone serious eye surgery recently. Having been diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease, he was actually given "donor eyes". To be completely accurate, he was given specific parts of the eye (both left and right) from someone who had passed away. The woman told me how he was transitioning through the surgery and that one of the eyes was not accepting the transplant well. Her husband was still having trouble seeing properly through that eye.

It was an interesting conversation that made me think about God. Our vision is so limited, His is eternal. Our perspective may be skewed by our upbringing, our hurts, and our past. Our depth, color, focus - all of these things can be off for years and we may not even realize it. God is completely focused, pure, and true at all times. He is sovereign. Oh to have His eyes. What would we change immediately if we could see the world through the eyes of the Almighty?

I want you to hear something. It's really quite cool so go with me. C'mon - trust me. It's one of my new favorite songs. It might quickly become your new favorite too.

Click here and take a minute -

All I know is that I can't get the tune out of my head, nor the message out of my heart. God, give me your eyes today -

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shopping My Destiny

I just started reading "Your Destiny Switch". With my husband battling stage 4 cancer we have relocated to a temporary home (which is such a blessing!), have budgeted beyond TIGHT for a year now, and downsized to the bare minimum. Sadly, I see some of my dreaming has also downsized. Many of you are feeling the same tightening of the belt with our nation's economy.

This book drew me in as I wonder how much of what we're experiencing can we actually change? How much power do I have in the situation? Only a few chapters into it I am already consumed with excitement about the possibilities!

This morning I spent some time on classifieds - just window shopping. Oh, I don't have the money for anything today, but WOW! Look at the possibilities! The process made me giddy where for some time it would have made me deflated. I CAN plan for an exciting turnaround in my life - and I can expect GREAT things to happen! S0 can you!

While I may not be able to change certain variables (like cancer) I can change the level of hope and excitement I bring to the game. I can choose who I want to be and how I want that to be manifested.

I encourage you to give yourself a gift BEFORE the holidays - BEFORE the New Year - and let it positively affect your aim at your own destiny!!!!!

I'm shopping for a totally new exciting destiny - one of my choosing - are you?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Driving In Reverse

Recently I found myself looking through our family photo albums. A picture caught my attention - one of the kids and I in a waterfight a year and a half ago. It took my breath away. That day was magical - and I knew it even then. We were totally consumed in enjoyment of each other, our silly family bond and the thrill of being doused with the chilly water from the hose. It was pure delight - spontaneous, silly, and exciting. We could never have imagined on that day the challenges that would barrage our family in the following 18 months. And would we have wanted to know? I don't think so.

Each morning I wake up and spend my first hour in front of the fireplace with my hot coffee and my Bible - asking God to give me the faith and courage that our current circumstances demand - husband addressing cancer issues, financial concerns, teens growing into adulthood . . . I ask for the wisdom to walk the walk. That hour is essential to my day. When I miss it, I lose my
courage, my vision and my perspective.

"Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse." - Philip Yancey

Had we known as a family on that day in March what was coming in the next 18 months perhaps we would have stayed inside frightened, sad, and grieving for our upcoming losses. Had we known about those losses, we may have stayed inside and packed boxes, done the "right" things - the "serious" things, put our house in order and said goodbyes. I'm glad we didn't know honestly - because we did the perfect thing that day. We played and laughed and dreamt in faith - in joy - and it was absolutely the right thing. It was perfect.

Last night I drove past the most horrific car accident I have ever personally witnessed. The wreckage made me physically feel like I was going to throw up. I knew the people in the cars could not have survived. My prayer at that moment was that they had lived perfect days too. That they had lived with their hearts open in faith - Live your life believing - and choosing - and "faithing" - and trust that God will make sense of it in reverse. Promise.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Broken Down Shack

While on my roadtrip to California with my oldest daughter we began reading a novel - The Shack. We'd heard amazing things about this book - how spiritual it was, how deep it took the reader, and how transforming its storyline. People's comments pushed us to buy the paperback to pass the hours over the boring miles of Nevada desert.

We'd gotten almost all the way through the book by the time we pulled in to our driveway back home. Only the last 100 pages left or so. Already the story had been gripping, tragic, reflective and bittersweet. We determined to read the end separately as time permitted - both getting back to our busy routines.

Well, I need to tell you that I'm not even finished and I've sobbed uncontrollably. I won't tell you the story but just this . . . each of us have places so wounded in our hearts that we think no one can go. Each of us have broken down shacks in our past where awful unthinkable things have happened and those regrets, those losses, those memories haunt us.

The Shack reminds us in so many ways that God is big enough to shine light even in those dark places - and bring beauty and order even among the chaos. If you're struggling right now to see God in the pain of your life - read it and soak it in. You'll be surprised, lifted, and changed for the good.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Out Of It -

I'd been feeling "out of sorts" with my life the last four weeks so I decided to take a road trip with my daughter to sunny California. Part business but part play - I figured I needed a break to clear my head. Funny what's happened.

I haven't been able to connect with many of the clients I needed to here in California. Odd turns of events have put us in the wrong places at the wrong times and we've criss-crossed. Then in a tragic turn, I lost my phone which is my lifeline to my business and pretty much any data for the trip. Again - an odd turn creating more frustration.

My daughter - the wise one - said, "Mom, maybe you're just supposed to chill on this trip. Maybe it's not supposed to be business at all. Maybe you're just supposed to have fun?" Hmm.
Since then I've been more relaxed - soaking up my family members and realizing it's been a long time since I connected here. After a tough last year I realized I haven't really shared much with my family here. And so I see much of the real disconnect in my life - that lost feeling - is really just homesickness.

Today we're going to the beach - which I love. Ahh, to be at the beach. Reminds me who I am and puts things right in my heart. Sometimes where you're "out of it" you just need to get "back into it" and heal the homesickness.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Grease Is Cheap

A friend of mine, Zane, is the author of a book called "Grease Is Cheap". I'm anxious to read the book as he shared with me the concept. You see, Zane grew up on a farm. They had lots of heavy duty equipment to work the property, and Zane was responsible for the upkeep. His dad would remind him to stay on top of things as repairs were costly, maintenance was not. "Grease is cheap," he would tell Zane.

Today Zane shares with others the concept that its the small maintenance that helps us avoid costly damage down the road. Corporations, organizations and church groups now reap the wisdom Zane learned from his father. Good words for all of us in today's times. Daily habits - physical/emotional/spiritual, inspired incremental investments, relationship steps and investments - all cheap grease - but definately priceless as time passes.

In another direction, things like being polite at the grocery store, making small talk at the post office, or being kind on the freeway - these things are not only cheap, they are FREE - yet, we often deny ourselves and others the "grease" that would make the day sweeter - just because.

I'm going to challenge you today to put a little "grease" out there - some of the FREE kindness and politeness that would truly make things go smoother for the people you meet. For that person who passes you in the hallway, or that individual at the gym who probably doesn't NEED your hello, or that co-worker than may not deserve your encouragement . . . offer it anyway.

And let me know at the end of the day if that cheap grease made YOUR day go smoother as well.

Thanks Zane - you inspire us!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Moments Of Sheer Joy

Our family has had a pretty tough year. A terrible auto accident and then my husband diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Wow. A lot to digest for a family with five children. So many changes taking place in everything familiar. At times it has been so heavy.

Then there are moments like today. The weather was just perfect - the colors on the hills are changing with fall. No breeze, but just the right temperature to be outside. We headed to the park and played a little tennis (really the drill was one or two lobs and then running to retrieve the ball hit over the fence), and run around on the tanned bark and swings.

Somehow it was magical. Just a moment where it was only joy. Nothing else.

Thank God for moments like that when the pressures fade, the fear is breathable, and the blessings bubble up to the surface. Moments like that make the tough ones do-able.

When was your last moment like that?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting Past Neon "Yeh, but's"

I worked with a coaching client this week and during the course of our session I was reminded of the power in our self-talk. What we say to ourselves about our value and our worthiness has more impact then the facts of our lifetime accomplishments.

Constant "Yeh, but's" blindside us and flash almost in neon - a loud denial of the value of our existence - AND a huge roadblock to ever feeling fulfilled. If there was a flashing neon sign blocking your life today - what would it say? "Failure" "Fake" even "Loser"?

What if you, in your mind's eye, could give that neon sign over to God - allowing God to heal that roadblock so you could move on? How fast could you move on down the road to success if you just give that over to the one who oversees the galaxy?

If you're on a detour or waiting for the road construction to ease up - perhaps you have more control than you think - if you're just willing to give those neon "Yeh, but" roadblocks over to God.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gray and Grayer

Sometimes there are clear cut choices that need to be made. Other times the choices just seem like various shades of gray. Darker, lighter, but still gray. Hard to discern the "right" thing to do there, especially when the outcome is important.

The latin word for certainty is "certus" which actually means "to sift". At those gray and grayer choices, we must sift through all of the information given us through our senses, our past, our dreams, our relationships, our faith . . . and determine what is certain. What do we believe in all certainty?

Standing on the ground of certainty may not change the shades of gray, but it may however, help us by deduction understand the shades we WON'T choose. Sometimes just knowing what we AREN'T about helps us see what we ARE - and then we can get about doing it.

Sift out some shades of gray today -

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

There Is No Arizona

So I'm in Arizona networking and promoting my new book. The toughest part of this whole process for me personally is getting places. You see, I'm directionally challenged. It takes me 3x as long to reach my destination because even with a GPS in my car, maps and printed Google Maps, AND my palm pilot - I still get lost.

Seems unreal, but I honestly cannot understand what I'm seeing in correlation with what I need to do. Funny, but that is also the biggest challenge right now in my personal life. I see the map (the Bible), I'm listening to the sermons, counseling with wise friends and leaders, and still I feel like I'm wandering around lost.

The first couple of days it made me frustrated. On the freeway cursing I had almost convinced myself to go back to Utah immediately. However, by yesterday I had become more familiar with the names of the routes, having criss-crossed them now in my wandering SO many times! And when I took a wrong turn I could almost feel it in my gut - ok, that doesn't feel right - and I laughed and turned around. (a few days ago I would have been a half hour away before recognizing the mistake)

This is what most of us avoid like the plague - getting "in there" - right into our weakness so completely that we're at the end of ourselves. I hate it honestly. But the last few days I've also come to appreciate my own tenacity. I don't want to give up. I want to work through it and learn this thing about directions, maps, and feeling confident in new places alone.

I'm going to encourage you to see your challenges today under a microscope - how are you keeping yourself from growth out of your own fears? And what could you learn on a deeper level if you just allowed yourself the room to fail? Take a new course today and recognize that even being lost is a good thing. It teaches us how to find that sense of direction and navigate anywhere.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Facing Facebook

The new technology allows us to connect better than ever. Or wait, does it? The other day I was coerced into creating a Facebook account. "This is the latest, greatest way to keep in touch with friends and family!" I was told. Very quickly after creating it I was flooded with requests to be this person's friend, answer this person's writing on the wall, join this network . . . whew! Being a friend was complicated! Now I find myself clicking here and there, yes - we're friends, who are you?, can't keep up and I'm wondering when I will have time to really SEE my friends in person?

And then I received an email from my friend Mark who is on a 30 day pilgrimage in Spain. (Camino De Santiago) He is walking for 30 days. Just walking. And I'm sure thinking, meditating, reflecting . . . away from technology.

And I have to ask myself if we're somehow spinning our technological wheels without satisfaction - all longing to connect with something truly bigger - bigger than a computer. More real than a friend on Facebook. And more eternal than the late night hours spent online.

Friday, September 12, 2008

When Push Comes To Shove

My girlfriend Karla established a rule for her two small children to encourage them to be more loving with each other. The rule went like this: If one of the children was hurting for any reason (sickness, hurt feelings, or injury) it was the responsibility of the sibling to sit by, and soothe and comfort the other until the pain had passed. Each time Karla would witness this behavior she would give the empathetic child a candy. This began quite a wonderful relationship between the two children.

Then one day, Karla babysat my then 3 year-old daughter. Seeing the rewarding process, and wanting some sweet treats too, my daughter proceeded to push the little boy. When he fell, my daughter looked up and held out her hand. She anticipated getting a yummy piece of candy! In her childish interpretation, my daughter had missed the most important part of the lesson! We can all laugh about it now years later.

Sometimes as adults we are just as confused about what will bring us positive results. We miss essential pieces of the equation. Sometimes we focus so much of our energy on the END result that we miss who we could become through the journey - which is the biggest reason we're here!

The character traits - empathy, compassion, encouragement, kindness . . . those are the gold nuggets . . . are you cultivating them or just holding your hand out for a yummy piece of candy?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jump In With One Foot!

Ho hum. Another Wednesday morning. Same old, same ol'

Is this YOU??? Is this your life?? Are you reading this out of sheer boredom with your chin in your hands, looking for a pick-me-up because your life is . . . well, life-less?

I've got some exciting news for you today friend so perk up. You don't have to wait til next month, next year or ten years from now to start living your dreams. You can start today. Honest.

I've just finished a book called "Why Not Start Living Your Life Today" by Eric Delabarre and I've come to some AMAZING realizations. Any dream that you REALLY want can begin today. Absolutely. I knew I believed this on some levels but Eric's book honed in on what really makes it happen. Let me begin by telling you a story about one of my clients.

Suzie (not really her name) came to me frustrated and depressed. She had no passion in her life, she was frustrated with the day-to-day and felt like her life had no point. (sounding familiar friend?) As we talked it was clear that she had nothing in her life that made her giggle, get excited, or dream big. I asked her, "Suzie, what do you love? What things make you happy or have made you happy in the past - I mean REALLY happy?"

Suzie thought for a minute. I could tell it had been a long time since she'd even pondered it. "Well, when I was younger I took equestrian riding lessons. I loved horses. I could be myself around horses. I don't do anything with horses now - it's been ten years."

We began talking about what she would want to do if anything was possible and her eyes lit up "wow, if I OWNED a horse, now that would be incredible! What if I owned a couple horses? What if I taught lessons to teenagers, what if I certified in some horse training and took care of other people's horses . . . " her voice got more and more excited, louder and louder and by the time we were done with our session Suzie was so excited about horses she was crying.

That was five years ago. Today Suzie owns horses, teaches horses and enters local parades on her horses. That coaching session changed Suzie's life.

Translation - because you're sitting there thinking, "yeh, but I'm not Suzie. There are things that I want that don't even exist in my life. I can't even BEGIN to picture how that would change."

Here's what Eric says in his book that is the key I believe. He says you've got to get in the stream of your dream. The STREAM of your DREAM.

Quit watching from the sidelines and complaining about it. Get in even if it is a toe, a foot, even if it can't be two feet yet.

For example, if you've always wanted to be a writer? Start writing something - anything. If you've wanted to write music, get an instrument and take a class. If you want to travel, update your passport. Whether or not you go anywhere - be ready!

As you start taking steps and dreaming your dream, entering the stream of your dream with one horse riding lesson, or writing one song, or jogging a mile, you will FEEL the energy of your dream. That stream and energy will pull you downstream further, the next step will push you downstream further and further.

I want to go to Paris. I picked up some audio CD's from the library. In my car I'm speaking French and I'm giggling - I know I'm on my way to Paris. I'm collecting pictures of Paris, I've got my passport out and I'm updating it . . . even found a song about Paris . . . I'm LIVING the excitement of going to Paris right now. I'm feeling the passion right now. I'm so excited about Paris right now. The planning is part of the whole dream.

So friend - even if you're jumping in with what logic says is only one foot - still jump. Get in the stream of your dream and you'll be surprised how great the water feels . . .

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's All A Humanitarian Choice

Last night I attended the memorial service of several who were killed in a small plane crash on a humanitarian mission to Guatemala.

As I stood as just one in the large crowd, holding a candle as the sun faded, like a wave consuming me I had the startling realization - AGAIN - that we make profound DAILY choices.

The group's name said it all - "Choice Humanitarian". Friends and family spoke on behalf of each of the individuals lost - each one had died sharing their light in the greatest way they knew how. Their actions - their leaving home - their giving of their time - their refusal to stay comfortable for the sake of their fellowman - it astounded me. They CHOSE to be givers. The CHOSE to be on that plane - they CHOSE to serve humanity.

It's not guilt that I'm feeling today. No, guilt seems like such a superficial motivator today. It is deeper than that. It is an awakening in me that my wings WANT to stretch because of what I learned last night standing there. My heart aches to CHANGE the world to a greater degree and have a deeper impact - not for the world's sake - but for my own - BECAUSE I was remined that one person CAN change the world . . . and SHOULD. I see that dying in pursuit of bettering humanity is somehow the greatest choice we make. That means dying to one's own agenda, one's own pride, and even one's own idea of what success looks like.

Choosing to let parts of ourselves die opens up the possibility to let other parts of our soul LIVE. That is choice. What do you choose today? When your heart commits, the only real question that remains is WHERE? Pick your place in the vineyard and begin. Deeper than guilt, higher than love. Holy, powerful surrender.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Go To The Source

The AP Press reported this morning that the Dalai Lama is suffering from exhaustion. The man who many look to for encouragement, spiritual advice and leadership is, himself, suffering from fatigue during these trying times.

This may come as a shock to many around the world who have placed their trust in him. Wow. If the Dalai Lama is struggling, what hope does that offer us of less spiritual competency?

My aha? It offers us even greater hope in God. Period.

How many times do we look at others around us and place them incorrectly upon a pedastol - assuming they are beyond weakness, that they must have it all together, that they are above us spiritually somehow immune to our petty failures? Well, all humans, even the Dalai Lama, struggle. All humans fall short. All humans sin. All humans call out to the same creator in times of anguish, loss and suffering. And even those of great and noble character, like Mother Teresa, struggle with doubt, direction, and the meaning of life.

Whether you're struggling financially, in your relationships, with your health, or struggling with an addiction, you need new strength. When tough times come, and they do - even if you're the Dalai Lama - go to the source for renewal of your body, mind, and soul. THE Source. God.

Just last night I was reminded . . . in Isaiah 57:15

"I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts . . . (19) May they have peace, both near and far, for I will heal them all," says the Lord.

Tough times humble even the greatest leaders - reminding them to go to The Source of life, truth, and courage.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Watch Your Mouth!

As I'm completing the text for my new book "How Tough Moms Succeed In Tough Times", I've also been reading the book "Nice Girls Don't Get Rich". It is an interesting paradox that we women have been culturually groomed to fail.

We've been told to be "nice", "loving, "nurturing" and "sweet" . . . well, those qualities sister may not be the ones that will save you when life packs a punch.

I've been reading as well about the Great Depression and how women got tough, got focused, got smart and got resourceful to protect themselves and their families.

Tough cookies don't crumble in tough times. They pull out that Momma-Bear instinct and fight. Times are pushing us moms to toughen up today. Perhaps we just need to re-learn the vocabulary of our youth -

"Nice" translated = diplomatic, reflective, methodical
"Loving" = supportive, intuitive, encouraging
"Nurturing" = creative, resourceful, networked
"Sweet" = genuine, empathetic, appreciative

Words are powerful things. They build complete realities. If you're wishing your world looked different - start with the words you use to describe it and watch the transformation in YOU and YOUR circumstances.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So Far From "Ghandi-esque"

As much as I revere Ghandi and his wisdom, I don't want to BE Ghandi. And as much as I love the heart of Mother Teresa, I don't covet her mission. I love being a mother of five busy children. I love forging into the unknown with a business plan and a hope for the future. And, I enjoy the comforts of a home, furnishings, deoderant, and my Mr. Coffee.

What I do hunger for though in my life is that "Mother Teresa-ish" quality, and that "Ghandi-esque" maturity. I want to reach inside and touch sainthood in those moments when my sneaky mischevious spirit creeps up. I want to be able to levitate in pure bliss and peace in those moments when I get cut off on the freeway. I want to find a way to hate no-one and love more people deeply. I want to see higher life purpose and still be task oriented enough to get places on time.

My greatest heroes are the people who can summon compassion and wisdom in those moments when they are most needed, and then look like touchable, unassuming, ordinary people in the moments in between. People who give creatively and courageously; individuals who take initiative to change the world beginning in their neighborhoods, and servant-hearted accountability partners who love without enabling. That's real, that I can appreciate, and that I can trust. No hype, no fluff, and no sheet : )

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hey, Nice Pots!

I love my pots. They are bubbling with purple, pink and white petunias, lavendar and 2 different kinds of mint. After I run in the evening I sit on my steps and change out my sweaty running shoes for my white flip-flops and I sit and breathe in the air from my little terra pot garden. These plants instantly make me feel happier about living.

People make comments about my thriving pots. I guess my petunias are a hit - can I tell you my secret?

Once a day I pluck off every single petal that is starting to whilt. Petunias by nature are short lived. If you keep them on the vine while they droop and sag, it sucks up all of the perky "new flower juices" and the plant goes flat and bare. We are not petunias, but I'm telling you friend, in a very similar way, we've got to get in the habit of plucking away those habits of ours that are sucking us dry lest we go bare as well.

How many of us wait too long to quit that job, too long to go on that health regime, too long to say those important "I love you" words? For how many of us has the time on the vine tapped us of our creativity, our spontaneaity and our drive? That feeling when we've been tapped out, sucked dry, and beaten down is not our element. We want to be our best selves - and that means lean up, thin out, and double-up on the creativity. Unleash the energy locked up in unproductive areas of your life!

Trimming the whilt off my petunias helps them perform like celebrities - always shining and always bursting with new life. What areas are wilting in your life that need plucking? And where do you want new growth? Pruning is producing!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Going Through Hell

Read something the other day -

"There is always a light at the end of the tunnel but it might be hell in the hallway!"

Wow. That is so true. There is ALWAYS a light - a divine light I believe - at the end of every tough situation - but you may have to endure some hell to get there.

With my husband going through cancer treatments I've decided HELL (h-e-double hockeysticks - as my kids say) stands for "How Exactly do you Live and Love"? That truly is the question hell asks us. What do we believe about Living? What do we believe about Loving? What exactly have we decided about those two things?

So, the other day I told God - "yup dang it, it feels like I'm going through a little bit of hell right now."

And I believe I could hear God asking - "Tiffany, whether you live long or short, whether you have much or have little, whether you get what you want or only learn to love what you get . . . hell is not a place - it is a question. What's your answer?"

I'm still developing my answer. I don't like what I'm going through (and you may hate the hell you're going through too my friend) but I'm more introspective and less angry. I'm looking around at people who do it well and I'm taking notes. I'm trying to be at least diplomatic. Going through hell is teaching me more about my character than I care to admit.

So the next time you smell brimstone and life heats up about 100 degrees and the beads of sweat are rolling down your face, think of hell like a question. How Exactly will you Live and Love? Don't fear tough times. Fear your answer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Love Your Guts - Unconditionally

I have a friend Makay who is just like a sister to me. From the first time we met we have laughed and cried together. She is just like a ray of sunshine.

At the end of every cheerful email she types "LYG" . . . the acronym for "Love Your Guts".

Now, in some ways it seems a bit morbid doesn't it? Telling someone you love their inner systems? . . . and yet, I absolutley know what Makay means and I can hear her sweet voice saying it with bubbly enthusiasm. Truly contagious!

When she says "Love Your Guts" it is a vote of unconditional support, courage and approval. How many people do you know that love YOUR guts?

I am so grateful for the people in my life who love those unsightly and imperfect parts of me - my inner workings - even the broken ones. It gives me the courage to face parts of myself that scare me, intimidate me, and even inspire me to greater levels.

Thank you Makay - hey girl - LYG!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Many of my family and friends live in sunny California. As my children were growing up we would try and head out to the sandy beaches at least once a year.

I hadn't realized how much my children picked up on the monetary cost of those trips until one day my son asked me when we were going next to "Can't-A-Fornia".

He'd heard us cancel trips or speak with financial overwhelm about the trips enough that he had actually incorporated that into the name. How sad.

I want to be the type of mom who injects feelings of possibility into my goals and dreams - individually and collectively. I want my children to hear in the undercurrents of my speaking with them, that dreams are seed money, that ideas are endless, and that the manifestation of every possibility in their lives is only as far away as their fingertips. They only need to open their hands to touch it.

From now on I'm even spelling "caneloupe" mellon without the "t".

I'm taking the can't out of everything I say. There's a better message I want in my life and I want my kids to hear it loud and clear. CAN. CAN. CAN. Are there words you need to change in your world?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Living With The Top Off

About lunchtime I received a phone call from my friend Sheri. We had plans to meet for a bite to eat and discuss some business ideas.

"Can I swing by and pick you up?" she asked on the line. "I've just rented a convertible Mustang for the weekend and I thought we could go for a quick spin!" Knowing my friend Sheri I burst out laughing. Only Sheri.

She seemed to catapult out of the driver's seat and squeal with excitement to show off her weekend love - a sparkly clean beaming white convertible Mustang with grey interior. The two of us, both tipping closer to the 45 year-old mark than the 25 year-old mark hopped in, made sure the camera had batteries, and spun down the highway heading for the mountain roads. We laughed so hard I'll bet we had bugs in our teeth. It was the best business lunch I've had in quite a while!

Sunglasses on, top down, wind in our hair - it cleared my head and made me want to work harder at my life.

In times of economic stress and financial uncertainty, it's good to be reminded that hard work pays off in dividends of freedom. Freedom with finances, freedom in our relationships, and the freedom of health to enjoy a spin through the mountains with the top down.

Now this is living!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Waiting For Your Cat To Bark

My stack of library books makes me grin. Evidence that my interests are all over the place. I absolutely LOVE the library. 10-15 books in hand for a mere $5 library card fee - oh, I think I've just died and gone to heaven.

On top of my happy little stack is a marketing book. It caught my attention as I am continually looking to grow my business. However, something about the title has me reflecting more on my relationships than my business.

"Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?" - by Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg. Hmmm. It's about marketing. But, wow. That says volumes about some of my relationships!

That's the answer I think to some of the biggest funks I've been trying to resolve personally. I've been waiting for certain cats in my life to bark. They aren't going to, I can't make them, and they are just always going to be who and what they've always been. You can't force someone to be nice, kind, gracious and appreciative - even if you give them everything you'd think they need. Even if you become a doormat through all of the giving. You can't compel people to be compassion if they aren't. And you can't expect tact from people who don't think tender thoughts. It's just not in them.

This totally goes against everything I've ever thought about people. I've always thought you could reason people into kindness and compassion. Give them enough mercy, attention, respect, and time, and they will yearn for peace and relationship.

Therein lies the biggest waste of energy in my life. Yes, this is monumental. You cannot, I cannot, change the hearts of people who choose to be angry and miserable. It's like waiting for a cat to bark.

What you can do however, is recognize it is about THEM not YOU, and spend your energy building your life around people who choose mutual respect, kindness, and gratitude. People who share the same vision of goodness in life . . .

. . . and then realize that there are those who will be mean and nasty because they choose to be mean and nasty. And not spend your valuable life moments taking it personally or banking on that to ever change.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Supergluing Wings To My High Heels

I'm currently listening to an audio book on how to create positive change in your life. The author referred to the Greek God Hermes (pronounced 'her-meez) - an agile runner with wings on his shoes and on his cap - who, among his many roles, in lightning speed would bring important messages from mighty Zeus.

Speaking of Hermes, the author explained that as Hermes would arrive on scene to herald new tidings, IMPASS in our lives does the same thing. When we are at a dead-end in our lives it is easy to feel hopeless. IMPASS, or that dead-end feeling, therefore, is simply the forerunner to essential, mercurial change.

I would have to agree with this author. Every time I have been at an impass in my life - a point of discontent - a point of frustration where I felt stuck - somehow, that was also the precursor to everything becoming clear. Impass was the catalyst for mercurial change within myself.

Thinking about my new winged friend, Hermes, what seems essential is the skill of agility. Being able to change direction with dexterity and lightness. No baggage or hesitancy. No judgment or revenge. No second guessing, no blaming. Just change. Right change.

I've got some points of impass in my life - areas that seem stalemated and stuck. Hense, I've decided to superglue some wings to my new fuscia Payless pumps. If nothing else, just to humor myself along and remember . . . I want to be agile when I am at an impass . . . I welcome positive, insightful, essential change. It always comes at what seems a dead-end.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't Shoot The Lawnmower

A story came across my desk today through the AP Press. The headline read "Angry Man Shoots Lawnmower".

True story. A 56 year-old Milwaukee man was frustrated with his lawnmower and pulled out a short-barreled rifle and shot the dang thing. Taking aim at the defenseless lawnmower, combined with illegal possession of this type of rifle, could haunt this man to the tune of 6 years in prison and $11,000 in fines.

Hmm. I, myself have been frustrated with my lawnmower at times. After almost throwing my back out yanking the pull-cord twice my body length, and heaving my machine down the sloped driveway while holding the cord, hoping gravity would be on my side . . . yes, I can appreciate the man's frustration.

However . . . seems to me a better resolution (and a cheaper one) would be to fix the frustration, change the cord, replace the annoyance, restore the rust, clean the engine, borrow a neighbor's, pay a kid in the neighborhood . . . wow . . . pretty much anything that would expedite the process rather than shoot the lawnmower itself.

Are there issues in your life that you're addressing like this man did his lawnmower? Shoot the dang thing up as opposed to finding an effective solution?

Don't lose sight of the desired end result. A cut lawn. There's more than one way to get there.

To Read AP Press Article:;_ylt=ArGXoI0t7EQGsM4vPz82jSShOrgF

Friday, July 25, 2008

Medium Rare Thanks But No Thanks

I saw a billboard the other day which read, "Only a mediocre person is at his best all of the time". Wow.

It was refreshing to ponder that thought as I struggle to understand the ups and downs on the roller coaster of life. Some days I feel on top of things, other days I am looking up wondering how I've dropped from where I wanted to be and expect myself to be.

Here's the secret though I believe: To be a peak performer, one who excels, it must be expected that lows will come, re-evaluation must take place, and new goals must be sought. Standing in place will never be enough if I want to cross a finish line, even one of my own design.

I want to see great things in my lifetime. I want to be part of great movements, worldchanging trends, and hands on transformation in people, businesses, and youth. I believe great things are not only possible, but integral to an exceptional and fulfilling life. That also means that mediocrity is not acceptable. In fact, it is the thief of true fulfillment as it undermines one's ability to endure, push harder, sprint faster, and go the extra mile.

Striving to do better means I will have days where I fall short, dust myself off, and with a loving kick, boot myself through the next mile. It is a refusal to be mediocre.

The process is worth the rewards of having unparalleled success on days when I do break through and reach the summit - cheering for myself even when I'm the only one who sees the personal challenge overcome. Medium rare? No thanks. I'm enjoying the push to excel past myself. The view from the top is amazing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pick YOU Up!

Our youngest son was not yet two years old. He confused his words on a simple request. Still today his grammatical error makes me chuckle.

Looking down into his toddler eyes, as he'd stretch his arms towards us as eagerly as he could, our son would say, "Pick YOU up?" What he really meant to say was, "Pick ME up", however, repeating our question to him word for word, his request came out backwards. "Pick YOU up?" he would insist! "Pick YOU up?" chubby fingers twitching and anxious arms reaching as high up our legs as possible. (I think he would have climbed us like a tree trunk if he had been able!)

"Sweetheart, you mean 'Pick ME up?" - our parental attempts to correct his english. Frustrated he would shake his hands in the air, "No! Pick YOU up!" he would yell. He knew what he meant, we knew what he meant, so rather than exasperate the child further, we decided to let him ask how he would. For almost a year when he would ask, "Pick YOU up?" - we knew he meant he wanted to be picked up and held.

Funny. I watch adults every day ask for love, acceptance, and closeness with similarly confusing ways. We want to be taken care of, yet we act independent. We want closeness, yet we build walls that keep us isolated. We yearn for acceptance, yet we keep our weaknesses and vulnerabilities to ourselves.

Luckily, people who do love us also know that we struggle to ask for what we need directly. They humor us, look in to our childlike eyes, and reach down to pick us up.

Thank heavens, God does too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Up In Smoke

On November 3rd, 2007 on the side of a busy Chicago freeway, Malachi Ritscher doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire. He wanted to make a statement to the world about his frustration with the war in Iraq. Sadly, amidst the rush hour traffic, no one saw him.

The statement he hoped to make, along with the political changes he hoped to see, went up in smoke with that decision. Interviews with his family showed only deep remorse for his choice to end his life. How much more could he have impacted the world through living a long life of leadership, influence and impact?
A life lived with fight, determination, and commitment to making radical positive change is a life of value. Don't let your best intentions go up in smoke by misguided attempts at rage, revenge, or martyrdom. Being a victim to this life is never noble - standing up for what is right and good has always been. Choose your most powerful impact on this world - choose life!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors

Yesterday my friend Sheri and I ran the Freedom Festival 10K. It was a longer run than I'd done in over a year but pacing myself with Sheri (and laughing the whole way) I didn't stop once. We finished the race giggling and sweating - proud to have completed our goal.

Sheri motivated me and encouraged me to do that run - alone I don't believe I would have completed it.

Sheri has been part of most of the charity work I've been involved with, almost every business I've started, and was there cheering me on when I won Mrs. Utah. Since we met almost 7 years ago she has been one of the best components in my successes. And yet, I don't know if I tell her that often enough.

Are there people in your life that encourage you along, even almost invisibly, who make all of the difference in your success? Do you have Sheri's in your life that laugh along with you, cry alongside you, serve in good times and bad with you, and who know you so well that they also give you room to make big mistakes?

I'm going to challenge you today to reach out and tell that person in your life that they make the difference. One of my first emails this morning was to Sheri - one of the best sponsors for goodness in my life.

Who sponsors you friend?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Difference A Prayer Makes

Sometimes in leadership its tough to admit you're scared. You look around at a new office, a new title, a new job description and it's a bit intimidating. Even with all of the fanfare and glory you worry. May make you feel like a 5 year old again on the first day of kindergarten.

Solomon felt like that too. In fact, he was real honest about his intrepidation about becoming king. He prayed, "I feel like a child who doesn't know his way around . . . " 1 Kings 3:7 "give me an understanding mind so I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong."

That's it. He prayed a very simple prayer. "I'm in leadership now and I don't know my way around. Help me be an understanding leader AND know right from wrong."

Well, God was pretty happy about that prayer. Solomon didn't ask to be cooler than those he led, wealthier than other kings, drive a better car, or be better looking than his subjects. He was very humble and honest about his own inadequacies.

What did God do? He blessed Solomon with wisdom, wealth and legacy.

When we feel like a kid who doesn't know his way around, it's best to let God know we're a bit lost. Get humble and pray for wisdom. Then with that new title, that new office, that new project, we can be blessed with divine discernment and lead well.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Secret of Barbie Will Change Your Life

Everyone knows Barbie. She was my childhood idol. I wanted to have long blonde hair like hers, a shape like hers, and shoes like hers. I'm still waiting for my pink convertable and dream home like hers too.

There are some special ironies about Barbie that could endear you to her forever. And, for some of you, you may have new found appreciation for Barbie's curves.

You see, "Barbie" was the creation of Ruth Handler. She and her husband Elliot, along with their friend Harold Matson began a company called Mattel. They combined their names together to form the name of their venture.

Originally Mattel made wooden picture frames. Elliot began fashioning doll houses from left over pieces of wood. Watching this business in transition and wanting to contribute, Ruth Handler decided to produce the first ever full-figure doll for little girls. Up to that point the only dolls on the market were baby dolls. Ruth felt that little girls should be comfortable with their changing physical bodies - and she wanted them to dream about exciting futures. She lovingly named the first doll "Barbie" after her daughter Barbara. (later a boy doll would be called Ken after Ruth's son)

Women's rights groups slammed Ruth's creation calling it offensive and disrespectful. The womanly shape shocked many who saw it as promiscuous. And yet, little girls LOVED the dolls - so much so that Mattel ranked in the top 500 American businesses within the first 5 years. Soon the dolls were the rage internationally as well. Young lassies would dress up the dolls, redress them, accessories them and play out real life adventures - girls dreamed about their future roles and identities through those dolls. Barbie had clothing for every season, sport and career, as well as campers, boats and housing. She was a huge success - a trendsetter.

But that's not the most interesting or inspiring part of the story. Certainly not the most ironic part of the story.

Years past and Elliot and Ruth Handler sold their very successful business. Ruth became ill. She had breast cancer. Now go figure the irony. The woman who made the first doll with breasts - had breast cancer.

Was it a curse for some energetic blasphemy against the female anatomy? Or was she just the person God needed to brave the topic?

Ruth Handler created a new product. She created one of the first prostetics for women recovering from masectomies. Her new company "Nearly Me" fashioned the first comfortable, natural-looking breast prostetics in familiar bra sizes. Her insights into what females needed for their own self-acceptance and self-esteem inspired "Barbie" - AND ironically breast prostetics.

Ruth passed away in 1991 of cancer. Barbie lives on. The next time you hear someone criticize Barbie and those womanly curves or presume that the visionary was shallow - share with them the real story and let them be inspired instead. The value of Barbie makes perfect sense to a woman who fears she has lost herself but ends up blessed by the same visionary's final creation.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Smack - Right In The Kisser

I read in "Traveling Light" - a book by Max Lucado - that he struggled with alcohol at a significant time in his ministry. THE Max Lucado. Yes, Pastor Max Lucado. Author, motivational speaker - yes, THAT Max Lucado. How ironic. A Pastor in need of an alter call.

And it seemed the whole world was in shock with the release of Mother Teresa's memoirs - shocked to read that Mother Teresa who lived a saintly life - struggled with her faith. Hmmm.

I also read about a 33 year-old master chef Grant Achatz - who had just won the "Oscar" of chefery so to speak - who just last year was diagnosed with Stage 4 tongue cancer. Irony? He went through chemo and radiation and in the process lost his TASTE BUDS. You're kidding right? No. He lost his taste buds. Could life have been more cruel? Smack! - right in the kisser.

So, I look at these stories and I ask myself how have these great people dealt with a situation - a crisis - in a way that still creates a legacy - they still move in the path of greatness - EVEN given the irony, the struggle, and the reality of their pain and position.

Here's the key. They kept going in spite of the irony of their circumstances.

Max Lucado kept speaking and writing and his books are personable and convicting. Mother Teresa kept giving and serving - her legacy is known around the globe. And our chef friend? He began using his other senses more, remembering what a "pinch" of this or a "dash" of that felt like in his hand rather than in his mouth, and he trained another chef to be his assistant - his "taster". And he STILL cooks. Quite literally in the face of his greatest challenge.

When you want to give up, when you think you've been hit in your weakest spot at your weakest moment and you fear you are finished - keep going. When life hits you - SMACK! - right in the kisser - don't give up - "taste and see that the Lord is good". Psalm 34:8

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

God Doesn't Need Your Bull@#&$!

I've got to confess. Sometimes my prayers sound like I'm trying to get out of a speeding ticket.

"Well God, you see, I was on my way to doing the right thing but then I noticed this one thing that I really wanted and so I wasn't really going to do anything bad, it just sort of happened, and then well, you know how that person is and . . . blah, blah, blah" - all B.S. really.

Have you done that? Have you been there? Wanting to do the right thing in your business but well, a little white lie creeps in, or you find yourself covering your assets with a bit of fabrication? Seeing a place where you should-a would-a could-a done the right thing but well, hey, we're human right?

As a Christian in business I do try to be ethical in the marketplace. I do try to be a good example. But I find there are moments when worldly ethics are on a sliding scale - are you with me? I'm not a blue collar worker, I'm not a white collar worker - I'm more of a gray color worker some days . . . many different shades of gray depending on where my morals are. Ugh. I'm not a killer or a thief, but I know better and I want more from myself.

I hear myself almost 3rd person and I know I'm just so full of excuses it's baffling. I know I'm not humbling myself - I'm just blah, blah, blah - and I know God knows it.

Today I came across some verses that made me want to rethink the line of bull that I often use with God.

Psalm 50:9-15
"I want no more bull from your barns . . . I want no more goats from your pens . . . I don't need the bulls you sacrifice . . . what I want instead is your true thanks . . . Trust me in your times of trouble and I will rescue you and you will give me the glory."

God doesn't want or need our bull. He just wants us to trust Him.

Next time you hear yourself giving God a bunch of bull - rambling on with rationalizations - just smile, laugh at yourself for a minute, and remember God doesn't need your bull.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Baal'ing On God

It had been three years of drought and a famine covered the land. The people had lost their crops and now their animals were dying with no grass to eat.

In their desperation the people didn't know where to turn. And that's when they Baal'ed on God.

When relief did not come as they thought it should, when the heavens appeared empty - and everything they saw around them was dying - the people stopped asking God to help them and began praying to the god of Baal.

Like rubbing a lucky penny or rabbit's foot, the people clung to their superstitions instead of their faith in the loving character of God. Don't we do that too? In times of hardship we devour the articles in the New York Times or Money Magazine. We diversify our portfolio to cover our assets - so to speak. We research a better interest rate and we buy gold boullion rather than high yield bonds. We cross ourselves and kiss our past trophies as a benediction on today's performance. We shout our intentions to the Universe and recite our affirmations in the mirror.

But do we spend time on our knees asking God to bring rain? How funny we are.

When the harvest doesn't come in the season we believe it should and day after day we're still walking the desert eating that boring manna - we Baal. Other things, other people, other advisors become our leaders and voices of reason - and we Baal on God.

Elijah stood in front of the people and ask the same question I'm asking you today -

"How long will you waiver between two opinions?" If the Lord is your God - then follow Him.
1 Kings 18:21

The Baal's of this world will always be the enticing fortune cookie. Open it up and get some good advice when things suck. Well friend, that's one way to do life. I'm telling you though, that human advice and that rabbit's foot hold little power next to a big God who loves you. He has a future for you. You individually and you collectively.

Wait. Wait for the real answers. Seek to know God's will in your business, in your finances, in your leadership - wait even when the rain doesn't seem to come fast enough. Read how God proved himself larger than life in 1 Kings 30-38. See how impotent Baal really was - then and now. Can't hold a flame next to God - pun intended.

God hears you. And He will never Baal on you. He's bigger than that. Wait on Him and He will show up in a big way. If the Lord is your God - follow Him.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Baring All

Attorney Gerry Spence says, "We were thrown into this world with nothing but our naked rumps and our raw little feelings. Almost immediately we were taught to cover both."

How often in relationships or business do we hide or deny our true emotions? Our gut tells us do NOT hire that person, do NOT make that investment, or do NOT take that responsibility . . . only to regret it later when we don't listen. Or, how often do we sense that one of our team members is struggling or needs a word of appreciation - and we hold back.

Our raw little feelings are more accurate than we may realize. At our heart of hearts we have more sense about what is really happening than we even have words to describe.

That's why you can't separate your feelings from your business - put your heart into it!

I've never regretted the times I've trusted my instinct - but I can count numerous times I wish I had. I've never regretted extending a word of sympathy or encouragement - but many times too late I've wished I spoke up and showed more kindness.

So today I'm going to challenge you to trust your gut - bare those feelings that are trying to give you information - they will set things right in your world.

And certainly don't miss the chance to tell someone you care. You may not get a do-over.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Run For Your Life!

This morning I was out running in my new white sneakers. I retired my old shoes after six years.

Now I know you more advanced runners out there have your mouths gaping open in disgust - six years? Yes, I've run in those beaters far longer than you're supposed to. But they were so comfortable I didn't want new ones!

Since the shoe swap my knees hurt less. I also bought new socks and the whole ensemble looks great. I'm proud of my purchase and I'm smiling as I lace up my new shoes. I'm paying more attention to my stepping as I notice that my feet hit the ground squarely now - as opposed to a distinct lack of tread in areas on my old shoes. Now I'm wondering why I didn't make that change long ago?

Just a pair of sneakers. Why didn't I value myself enough to just make the change that other experts advised years ago? It wasn't a big deal - but now I see it was a great change!

Are you holding back on a change that experts tell you will make all of the difference? Could be something big, could be small - but why wait?

"Run in such a way that you will win. . . I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step." 1 Corinthians 24-26

Boy, if all it takes to run with better results is being willing to invest in a new pair of sneakers - I wish I'd done it years ago.

Find the small changes you need to run the race better - and run as though your life depended on it. Because in big and small ways, it does!

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Ver llegar" Calmly Watch & Change

Hemingway describes the Spanish matador's plight - "Ver llegar" this way:

" . . . the ability to watch the bull come as he charges with no thought except to calmly see what he is doing and make the moves necessary to the maneuver you have in mind. To calmly watch the bull come is the most necessary and primarily difficult thing in bullfighting."

Life brings each of us problems and challenges - and they seem to stare us down, scoop deep into the ground, exhale venom and destruction, preparing our demise. Crisis and doom ready themselves in our direction.

Perhaps you are a tomato supplier in the midst of a salmonella outbreak, perhaps your skill set is no longer needed in your industry after 20 years, or perhaps you have a health crisis that seems unstoppable. It is painful - terrifying - and often debilitating as we see our future barreling towards us with no regard.

Our task, our plight, is to watch calmly - assess the oncoming beast in all its fury - and act.

We are each in the ring with a beast, an opponent, a enemy, a change, that exceeds our strength by 100 times. Surely it would crush us given the chance.

If we are wise and have the courage to look calmly - and change direction accordingly - we have the power to overcome unscathed. It is a sacred trust that the matador develops within himself. It is a confidence and a valor - one in which the matador places his very life. The power to look life right in the eyes and move WITH it to succeed.

"Ver llegar" - the greatest strength of the matador. Find it within yourself -

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Faint Not

Have you heard about "fainting" goats?

Sounds funny but these goats actually faint. They stiffen up and fall over. Out.

When they get overwhelmed, frightened, surprised, even overly excited, their legs stiffen up and they pass out. Poof!

Interestingly enough as the goats mature, they are able to better handle stress and they gradually learn to manage without going out cold. They begin to stiffen up and hobble along a bit, but they no longer plop over paralyzed.

Maturity, experience, wisdom . . . and pure exposure to tough things . . . and getting through it without dying even though you fear you may . . .

Each one of us is like those goats. We learn. We choose. We get scared and we still stand up to it. We do the right thing even though it hurts. We don't faint.

It's a matter of maturity in the face of what scares us the most.

Faint not friend.

* for more on fainting goats

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Drop Down and Give Me 20 Soldier

Some days life feels like a battlefield and you're in the trenches with bombs exploding. The noise can be deafening, the fear unnerving, and the intensity of the situation, surreal.

When it seems there is no refuge the best defense? Drop down and give me 20 soldier.

Twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes alone with your Bible and God. Period.

Whether your battlefield is your business, your finances, your parenting or your health, time spent with God and the best success book in history will make all the difference in your strength and tenacity. Twenty minutes to find the wisdom needed to make better decisions. Twenty minutes to put things in eternal perspective. Twenty minutes to be honest with yourself. Twenty minutes to forgive the trespasses against you. Twenty minutes to get a new vision of your future.

When you're in the greatest battles of your life - drop to your knees and give God your 20 soldier. The battle is already won.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lost In Translation

Recently I received an email that in its brevity made me question the emotion of the sender. Was this person angry with me? Hostile? Were they being funny or coy? Was I reading into the message something that wasn't really there at all?

In our busy communications, especially via emails, text messages and voicemails, things are often lost in translation and difficult to manage emotionally. Especially when business relationships (and personal) may hinge on individual words or commitments.

The devastating affects of this "lost in translation" reality became quite clear when I was in California and happened to drive passed a restaurant whose name compelled a mixed physical response - the name of the eating establishment? Phuket Thai. (pronounced like an American - "puke at thai?")

Obviously the owner of the restaurant WANTS business. WANTS people to come hungry. WANTS people to enjoy the food. WANTS people to remember the restaurant name. However, what is lost in translation may create a damaging gap in his business that he didn't see coming.

Trust me when I say, I have created huge gaps by some of my own blunderous, nausea-inspiring mis-communications. Unintentionally I have hurt people. I speak sadly as an individual with scars from the shrapnel of my own email fallout.

From my heart to yours, from someone who has often created huge communication disasters . . . if corresponce is significant, read your message from the receiver's perspective so as to accurately illicit the most positive response.

What can be lost in translation might tragically be what we want most.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Winning At Sales - It's All Emotional

Taking the bull by the horns in leadership can be dangerous. Sometimes people don't want to be led. Great leaders see the value in gaining the respect of their people. So do you have people's respect, or are you a leader wrestling with the bull?

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In a purchasing situation customers avoid being bullied as well - nobody wants to be sold. Especially by a hesitant, desperate or aggravated salesperson.

However, rarely would a salesperson realize until far too late that they have been selling from these three positions. Only after repeated failures do many professionals question their technique.

Gerry Spence, a nationally recognized attorney says that instantly we each sort through billions of items of information, select what is relevant to our decision, and present that decision in the form of a feeling - either a negative or a positive one. I believe this. We humans purchase things, invest in things, follow things and run from things, by split-second responses based on emotion only.

If a salesperson or leader makes us afraid or skeptical that we are going to be harmed in any way, our physical bodies send a signal of fear, anxiety and frustration. Before we can even summon the words, "No thank you", our mental energies (and our wallets) are already blocks away.

To succeed at sales (and leadership as they are truly one and the same) salespeople ask big dollar questions:

How can a salesperson increase his average customer/sale ratio?
How can a salesperson keep the attention of the buyer?
How can a salesperson upsell the customer so they buy more?

Ahh, and there you have it. In those very questions is the reason so many sell with no passion. Because they fear the real answer and preoccupy themselves with "big dollar" questions. Successful selling and successful leadership doesn't come cheap and it doesn't come from those who focus on the buck.

One can never be successful in sales without truly caring about the customer. It is the caring that calms the fears, speaks to the anxieties, and listens to the frustrations - with the intent to protect the customer.

Same with leadership. Good leaders calm the fears, speak to the anxieties and listen to the frustrations - with the intent to protect those being led. Whether leading out as a parent, a manager, or a CEO.

Because on an emotional level - its all emotional. Just ask your child, your spouse, or your customer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Point of All Change

I looked into his eyes and I thought to myself, "I don't believe a word he's saying. He's not ready for change. Even though he hates his situation, every word coming out of his mouth is bologna."

The man in front of me had been in prison. He'd stolen money. He'd used drugs until his body ached. And this had been going on for years and years. Stealing, using, legal discipline, incarceration - and bologna.

Even with all of that reason to change, he wasn't there yet.

When people are "there" you see a fight in their eyes that is unflinching. With every bump and landmine they hang on to their resolution with white knuckles and a Rambo-like tenacity. There is no option but recovery. Period.

You can't make people get to that place. Parents, teachers, parole officers - you can't force it upon people, you can't debate them into the reasoning of it, and you can't bribe them. They have to get to that point of change all on their own.

Sometimes it is letting people down that gets them to that point of change, sometimes it is being sick and tired of being sick and tired, sometimes it is desperation, sometimes pure self-preservation. But once they are there, they're there and there is no holding back and there is visible evidence of change.

That is why when an addict tells me they are making baby steps to recovery I have to argue their sincerity and their will.

You don't make baby steps in recovery. Random, infantile steps will never get you up Mt. Everest. Addiction is a Mt. Everest. Cancer is a Mt. Everest. Debt and fear is a Mt. Everest.

As with many things in life, you cannot take baby steps to make monumental change in your life.

Monumental change requires mature INCREMENTAL steps. Focused, INCREMENTAL and chartable steps. Not nebulous, haphazard, naive steps.

In addiction, in business, in health and fitness, and in finances, if we want real change we must be able to plot our course on paper, outline our objectives in a timeline and hold ourselves accountable through sequential record keeping.

Zero alcohol in 30 days. Check.
Five AA Meetings in 7 days. Check.
45 minutes of cardio today. Check.
Saved $120 this month. Check.
Prayed and read The Word 20 minutes. Check.

There are qualifiers to the reality that supercedes "oh, but I really, really want to change".

As Yoda said to young Luke Skywalker - "there is no TRY".

The word "manifest" - comes from "manna" meaning "in hand" - is it concrete, solid, tangible change that is being manifested in your life, your daily routines, your actions?

Are you at the point of change in an area of your life? Are you manifesting change?

Are you making INCREMENTAL focused, chartable movement towards your goal no matter the landmines or . . . are you sheepishly downing a bologna sandwich?

Nobody can make change happen - nobody can compel you to that pivitol point of change. The great thing is - YOU can.

Monday, June 2, 2008

All Things Being Equal

"But it's NOT fair mom!" my kids say. And following in my parent's footsteps, and their parent's parents before them, I respond, "Life is not fair."

It's not. Have you noticed?

A saying comes to mind that is thrown around in conversations amongst adults - "All things being equal . . . " but they never are. Nothing is equal. Nothing is fair. I'm coming to accept that and there is a security in that insecurity.

You see, once you accept that life is NOT fair, that all things are NOT equal, you stop fighting so hard to make things fair and equal. You stop keeping up with the Jones' because it's ok that they have a boat and you don't. You stop comparing your child to your niece or nephew because you see your child is a star in his/her own way. And you stop asking "Why me?" when bad things happen.

All things aren't equal - and part of that is knowing that God sees us not as a mass of equal beings, but as unequal, special, unique people - all with different talents and skills and challenges. He also sees where you and I have big unique needs. And He fills them. Uniquely.

Thank God (literally). That means a lot more than things being equal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Momma Wears Army Boots

My mom just left to go back home to California. She came here for two weeks to help me take care of things while Paul was going through his surgery. With my hubby down and five children's schedules, it was truly time in the trenches.

She and I learned how to run the feeding tube machine together. We learned how to give Paul his meds through a huge syringe - we kept a log of his medication schedule - every 4 hours - which of the many bottles he needed to have, which needed to be combined, and which were 8 hour meds or daily ones.

She made her famous cookies. She drew smiley faces on the kids sandwich bags. She drove my kids to school, picked them up from school, helped me cut coupons for groceries . . . pretty much knows how to run things around here. And when she left, every single one of us (including Paul's parents and all of the kids) received a hand written card with a priceless letter from her.

She has been in the trenches with me when I couldn't breathe as I sobbed.

This isn't the first time. She was here for 3 months after my car accident last year. She was here when Paul was in the hospital for cancer surgery years ago. She came when Kaylan was born with health problems.

She's been here for some of my big battles. That lady is not afraid to fight. Her motto seems to be "Pray. Fight. Pray. Fight."

As she goes back home I know I'm stronger for the time she's been here.

My mom wears army boots. Hope my kids can say that about me someday -

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Escape Artist

Some years ago I went through some longterm counseling for my addiction to alcohol. As a mom of five children I really wanted to get better. Thought the drinking every day (all day) was the problem.

To my surprise it wasn't the alcohol that was the problem at all - it was my self-destructive patterns of "escapism". When I didn't like what I was feeling emotionally, I would find an escape path - seems alcohol, smoking, eating disorders, promiscuity, running from relationships - all of those were just paths I had taken in my life to numb out from pain.

With Paul's health situation I've had my flares out, my caution flags waving, and my substance abuse detectors primed to evaluate the slightest twinge of escaping or running away. Thought I knew my patterns backwards and forwards.

In fact, I've done even more studying on my personality type - highly "yellow" based on Taylor Hartmans' assessments. I'm fun driven, people driven and adrenaline seeking. I'd much rather be on a cruise to the Bahamas than be saddened by my husband going through cancer. (which I might add, he being yellow too, is his preference!) Escaping is a yellow's classic pattern.

I'd much rather be at a bubbly beauty pageant, a giddy glamorous fundraiser, a festive 5K, or a happy home makeover - really anything - rather than feel what I'm feeling watching Paul hurt so much.

As I bring this to God I can hear Him telling me I've still got the same patterns - just new methods. More acceptable methods. More discreet methods. I still escape in small ways and big ways - I just wasn't seeing it for what it was.

So, God is still healing that escape artist in me - just to a finer degree. He wants me to be here completely - even through the toughest of times.

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2 NIV

Doesn't sound like the Lord runs from pain does it? He is solid, grounded, strong and forever. Guess He wants me to be that too?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Buttprints in Time

I've got a card on my desk that reads "You can't make footprints in the sands of time if you're sitting on your butt. And who wants to make buttprints in the sands of time?"

Ha! That's a funny visual isn't it? Buttprints in time . . .

How many of us can relate to that? Not really walking one foot in front of the other, but more like stubbornly planting our backside waiting for life to come to us. Doesn't happen that way folks. You have to walk right up to life and introduce yourself - it won't come to you. At least the good stuff won't.

Tomorrow night I get to MC a charity event - a "Dancing With the Utah Stars" kind of thing. These celebrities are making footprints in the sands of time - with their volunteer toe-tapping they are raising funds for those who struggle. Every lift and bounce will add to what blesses lives. They didn't wait until life came to them - they pranced and practiced toward it.

So friend, are you sitting or strutting? Pouting or prancing? Cause life ain't going to move forward unless you do. Make tracks - the kind that make a difference.

Oh, buttprints in time . . .

Saturday, May 24, 2008

So Fake It's Ridiculous

Yesterday I arrived at the Covey Arts Center in Provo, Utah for a day of rehearsals and preparation for last night's Mrs. Utah 2008 Pageant.

When I arrived, to my shock I saw my face - larger than life in the window - wow. It was a bit intimidating. I don't look like that up close in real life. After spending much of the last 2 weeks at the hospital - pulling my hair into a pony tail with layers and layers of old makeup - the image in the window made me laugh. It was so fake it was ridiculous!

I don't really look like that. OK, some moments, on a good day, with the handywork of photoshop - I CAN look like that. But for the most part - that's just digital magic for the crowd.

As the night went on, it wasn't only the photo on the billboard that seemed out of context - it was everything. The glitze and the glamour was a stark contrast to the feeding tubes and sterile hospital smell I've become accustomed to lately. The dancing, the lights, the crown - all of it was just so out of context for what's been going on.

And there was my husband - in a handsome black suit that hid the 25+ staples still in his neck, minus the eye patch, and a black sock hiding his bandaged foot and leg. Sitting there with his crutches under the seats, it was very deceiving - people probably had no idea what this man has gone through over the last 14 days.

So it is, for good or for bad - that to some degree we are all able to hide or step away (even if for a moment) from the inner struggles, the day-to-day weaknesses, and the personal crisis that are really going on presently. In good ways and in bad ways we can show a side to the world that is who we wish we were and who we are aspiring to be -

And in that moment we get to do 2 things. #1 - We get to honestly take inventory of who and where we are AND #2 - We get to decide to uplevel and meet that reality (or not, staying how we are). Personally, I like what I saw on the window and I want to work harder to be her. And, I'm excited that my husband felt so compelled and determined within himself to get dressed up even given the difficulty in doing so. It was a labor of love that he did for me to show his commitment to me. He is taking inventory and fighting with all he's got to uplevel passed his current physical issues. Every day that he owns his life in spite of his health crisis, he OWNS his life.

Fake? Mmmmm. Maybe that's not the right word. "Aspired" would be a better word. We're both aspiring to better, positive things. Even if it's just a pretty picture. It's a great direction.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Houston - We Have Lift Off!

Paul was released from the hospital and has been adjusting to life at home. He's got a whole new gang of friends who've visited us - physical therapist, home health care nurse, and the supply people bringing liquid food for his feeding tube, a walker, meds . . . he's got his "peeps" making sure he's good to go!

It's been busy here as my mom and I have learned how to use all of his new equipment and keeping him on a med/ schedule throughout the day and night. He's been a great sport with all of the new adjustments!
We're hopeful that he can remove the feeding tube today. Tonight is the Mrs. Utah Pageant 2008 and Paul wants to be there untethered!

His right eye has been giving him problems so he is often wearing a patch - like a pirate. Landon thinks his dad is the coolest ever - c'mon, who else's dad looks that awesome with 25 metal staples in his neck from a sharkbite AND a pirate patch!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Welcome To The "Five and Dime"

I stepped into the empty elevator at the Intermountain Medical Center - shiny new metal walls only flawed by one or two small toddler handprints at knee level. Evidence of tiny visitors sometime earlier in the day.

I'd been up and down on that elevator now several times with my meetings with the financial office and getting Paul's check-out meds from the pharmacy.

Jumping in right before the door closed a gray-haired man in a suit joined me. I had already pushed the floor "10" button. Out of breath the man touched button number "5". My heart sank for him - candidly and sadly my eyes followed the button, to his shaking hand, to his arm, to his burdened shoulder, to his wearied face - and there focused on his overwhelmed expression. I knew the 5th floor. The 5th floor is ICU.

Immediately I felt connected to this man - and heartbroken for him.

"I know the 5th floor," I said as understandingly and as kindly as I could. "My husband had been there for several days last week. He's now on the 10th floor." Don't know why but I wanted this man to know that people get better even when it looks grim - I wanted him to have hope.

His eyes brightened. "My father is there. Hopefully soon we can move him up and out too."

"They do a great job there. Soon he'll be on a different floor I'm sure." I echoed smiling -

What an interesting thing that can be communicated with simple words.

Underneath all of that small talk was the message - "I understand your grief, your fear, your anxiety - and how this crisis is changing your life today. Please know you're not alone. There is hope in this."

Sometimes there is nothing about the situation today that can be changed. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone is enough to make it through. Sometimes our pain just needs to be seen and validated.

Welcome to the 5 and dime. All of us, on every level, are moving up and out - we just don't want to do it alone. God's mercy and Jesus' sacrificial life says we don't have to. There is always hope.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Identity Crisis

Last night Paul and I were watching tv at the hospital. A commercial came on for a medication - "Depression can turn you into someone you don't recognize anymore." - the announcer went on.

Paul stared hard at the tv screen, "Honey help! I don't recognize that person - or that person - or him either!" - We had to laugh.

That wasn't where they were going with that - but it did give us a chuckle.

Paul's surgery has brought with it some major changes - things he's pointing out to us as he's feeling more and more alert. It could definately challenge a person's identity. His jaw looks different, his face and tongue is mostly paralyzed on the right side, his right eye struggles to close and open in tandem with the left, and his speech is greatly affected -

What's so amazing is that his sense of humor is still intact and his determination and will to live is at an all time high. Even with so many things changing, I still recognize him.

Each one of us has God given qualities that make us who we are. Stripped of cosmetic, material, or physical traits, those nebulous qualities seem to stand out even more distinctly.

I've seen that time and time again as I've worked with individuals whose lives have been altered by accidents or illnesses - these people rise up and tapped into qualities that were there all along. It always makes me take a harder look at who I am.

If nothing else, what I am seeing is what we think we know, what we think we have, what we think we are, can be stripped away to reveal what God saw all along. And maybe that's why He gives us hard times - so we can clearly see who He made us to be. And so we'll reach deeper and grow those qualities and traits - the seeds of which He Himself planted long ago.

Perhaps we each need an identity crisis to see what really matters?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Family Visit

This morning all of the kids were finally able to see Paul - they were so excited!

Glad it is a big room!

God Never Lets Go

There has been a new song in my mind over the past week that has helped me so much - perhaps because it repeats an important message - God NEVER lets go. Never.

Here is a music video of the song -

Paul's Blogging!

I think we've turned the corner here! Paul is doing great this morning! Last night when I left the hospital he had been moved out of ICU and was trying to catch up a lapse in pain meds. Once he was sleeping soundly I tip-toed out to come home and sleep myself.

This morning I'm getting emails from him and he blogged! Check it out - - oh, he is so funny!

The kids and I will head up there at 10:30 this morning - Hannah and Landon were not able to see him in ICU so they are very excited!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Room!

(10:00 PM) Paul was just moved from ICU to a room on the 10th floor. He will be able to see visitors here - room 1006.

In the process of moving him he was off his pain medication IV for over an hour - and they had to give him something strong to catch up on the pain. Basically he is now in his happy place for a while -

Saturday evening

Paul is feeling much better this afternoon -yesterday was a pretty rough day! He watched horse racing, shopped KSL and enjoyed visitors -