Monday, September 28, 2009

Finding What You Don't Want

Standing in front of the glass counter my eyes pan the mounds of chocolates - pecan chocolates, raisin chocolates, pretzels dipped in chocolate, rice krispy treats with chocolate . . . "Uh, m'am? What can I get for you?"

I'm not certain what I want really. It confusing. When you're standing there they all look good. How to decide? It's overwhelming. I start defining what I don't want. OK, no cinnamon gummy bears with chocolate. No butter brittle with chocolate . . .

Finally I walk away happy with my bag empty of "don't-wants". Yes, life is like a box of chocolates. It's tasting and knowing the "don't wants" from the "do wants". Opportunities, friendships, careers, health choices . . . sometimes it is just separating the "don't wants" from the "do wants" one incremental decision at a time.

Relationships and habits are painful and difficult - chocolate is easy. But ultimately paths and destinies are formed by choices. As difficult as it is, you cannot take all paths simultaneously.

I don't want cigarettes. I don't want alcohol. I don't want to be in unhealthy relationships. I don't want my children growing up without God. I don't want to be loved half-way. Don't want to be less of me. Don't want to be taken for granted. I don't want to be stagnant in my life. I don't want to make foolish mistakes. I don't want to hurt people. Don't want to be prideful and blind to my own shortcomings. I don't want to lose my passion for good and right things. Don't want to lose hope.

In the don't wants is a whole lot of information about the do wants. Life will present a lot of chocolate - know thyself. Even if it begins with knowing what you don't want . . . it will ultimately bring you to what you do.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time To Move Forward

Paul's parents gave us a grandfather clock on our first Christmas. The clock has a beautiful chime and has always taken a prominent place in our home. Walking and crying through the somber house after Paul' passed away I looked at the hands of the clock on the wall - quietly moving - incrementally rolling forward - and I could not bear it. I opened the glass door and reverently moved the hands back to the very minute Paul passed. 12:45 am. July 21, 2009. I stopped the pendelum from swinging and dropping my eyes, closed the glass. Nobody knew but me.

Time stopped at the moment he died.

Every day for the last 2 months I have walked passed that grandfather clock. 12:45 am. That moment will forever be etched in my soul. That was the moment that Paul met Jesus face to face - that was the moment I sobbed on his chest and prayed with his mother at his bedside. That moment was undoubtably a moment of complete surrender for Paul and I. We'd fought a fight together and won. He was free.

Today though is a new day for me and in a very private way I need to be free as well. Today I will buy a new battery and with all of the respect and admiration and gratefulness in my heart, I will again put the pendelum in motion. Not to dishonor the moment Paul died - but to honor the moments he lived.

The clock on the wall tells me it is time to breathe, it is time to laugh, it is time to love, it is time to grow, time to set goals, time to create. The clock is of little use if it does not keep time.

In all reality we cannot still time. For in all of our pain, God's character proves faithful - time continues to flow like a river - as does the graceful healing that sets us free.

It's 10:13 on September 25, 2009. And it's time to move forward.

Where is your clock stuck? Where were your moments of surrender - where were your moments of loss? And what hands do you need to put back in motion? It is time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Living On A Prayer

My adorable 2 year old nephew woke up at 6:00 am yesterday. He stood at the side of his crib happily singing "Oohh, living on a praayeh" - Bon Jovi meets Pampers. The words and his cheerful disposition had my sister chuckling. Over and over he repeated the theme, all the while with a chubby grin and twinkle in his eye. "Oohh, living on a praayeh". What a great way for the entire household to wake!

What did you pray for when you rose this morning? When the sun came quietly creeping in across your floor - what was the greatest desire of your heart? What would you wish for if the Creator of the Universe to gift something sweet in your life? What would heal you, what you bless you, what would move you? And do you believe that the God who loves you is powerful enough to prove Himself faithful? Do you believe that God can restore what the locusts have destroyed in your life? Do you believe that God can restore broken relationships, heal broken dreams, forgive great rebellion? Are you willing to courageously walk around the seeming impenatrable emotional walls, with the trust that the God who parted the seas will bring even your heaviest stones crashing down? And do you trust that you can have imaginable joy and happiness if you let God lead?

This little 2 year old sang in sheer joy and childlike faith. His happiness was contageous. "Oohh, living on a praayeh" - His white teeth against his dark skin showed the grin of a soul ready for the adventure of the day. He fully expected loving arms to greet him and protect him. A child at peace - a child bubbling with joy - excited that goodness is coming.

Sweet child, are you?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Compelled To Love

My sister and her husband had 3 boys. She homeschooled, led in church groups and participated in neighborhood and community activities. It seemed a perfect picture. Until one day God put it on her heart . . . become a foster parent. At first it was a whisper. Then the whisper, a tiny stream, became a river. Soon the current swept she and her husband into a foster parent class and they placed their names on the list.

A call came. Would you take one child? What if there was a sibling? And then, what if there were 3? And what if the youngest was a baby? And what if they were not the same race as your family? And what if they had been abused . . . with each question the love compelled her heart to open. God eased the door open wider. She and her husband said yes.

She calls her family her 6-pack of boys. From 22 months to 15 she has 6 rugged, playful, busy, growing and challenging boys. Some days she is delighted at the chaos. Some days she weeps. Her life will never be the same. It is a risk to open her home but a bigger risk to open her heart. What if she cannot adopt these boys? What if they cannot overcome what they have experienced in life? And in her darkest moments, what if she is not enough, enough?

There is only one answer to all of those questions. Do you LOVE?

Not do you have love. Not do you believe in love. But DO you LOVE? It is a verb - it is a choice - it is a response - it is a decision. Once you decide that one thing every thing else falls in place.

For every chaos can be tamed by love.

Our roads often bring us to chaos we did not anticipate nor wish or foresee. What we desire and what we hope compels us to love and we choose to open our hearts completely. We risk because we cannot NOT - it meets our greatest longings. It changes us.

Our enough IS enough . . . truly . . . there is only question we need to ask. Do you LOVE?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Right and More Right

Going to the eye doctor the silly lense presto change-o test always gets me laughing. First this. Now this. Which is better? Wait, show me again. OK. This or this. The goofy metal glasses swing like a switchblade in front of my eyes. I'm instantly intimidated. I can hardly see the difference and I'm getting uncomfortable.

This or . . . this? OK, now I see!

I didn't see just a minute ago - and now, what seemed right before seems more right now.

God does that. Really to help us see more clearly what He saw all along.

This or . . . this? Basically, your way . . . or . . . this . . . My way.

And we sit back in the large lab chair rubbing our eyes - amazed. God, how did you know I would see so much better with that change? I didn't know it was possible. Thought I was seeing everything just fine. What was right before is more right now.

God. 20/20 vision. His one goal is helping us see He was right all along.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In The Quiet

Candles burning, kids sleeping, I walk through my clean and quiet small home and am thankful. Thankful for the bustle and busyness that keeps me going through the day, but also thankful for the calm that comes when the dust settles.

The path of my life has been rocky at times. There have been moments of great tragedy and great victory. There have been moments of incremental growth as well as moments of instant awareness and surrender. In all of these moments I realize I have not been alone - ever.

Friends change, congregations change, interests change and even love changes - but never have I felt that God has left me alone. In fact, it has been just the opposite. In my moments of greatest rebellion I have felt God pursuing me - chasing after my heart.

When the dust settles over my life - the greatest love I have ever had - has been God. And in my alone times, my quiet times, I realize that's everything I need to be me - to achieve my purpose here, to meet my goals, to dream my dreams. When everything changes - God stays the same. And when everything changes - God stays.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blinders On

Talking the other day with an acquaintance a prejudice statement was made. Immediately the comment stung as if it had been said about someone in my own family. I listened more closely. A second comment was made confirming the first. I had not known my associate had negative feelings towards people of a different skin color. It surprised me. As the conversation ended and I walked away I thought about blinders such as racial discrimination. How real those blinders are when we feel we're right about people, groups and situations. And when we are right we stop listening.

I would not consider myself prejudice based on race. However, when I believe I am right I can be very blind. I stop looking for clues that would conflict with my philosophies. I close off my opinions to a certain chosen few, and I tend to be less empathetic to anyone who is "wrong". I wish it were not so, but it is. Do you do the same thing? Put up walls around your truth?

So, here's to taking off the blinders. Here's to expanding the view, looking at other possibilities, other sides of the same issue. Here's to giving others equal talking time.

God let me see the truth of things even if it makes me uncomfortable. Take the blinders off so I see the big picture. Though I have eyes - help me really, really see for the very first time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Standing Corrected

There are times when it seems God is standing alongside of us like a compassionate parent, giving us a much needed lecture - all in love of course. Conviction hits us square in the face and our hearts sink. "God you are right," we say with our heads bowed. "You know my foolishness, you have a front row seat to my pain. You are right in your chastising."

At that point we may sink into despair falling to our knees weeping in our shame.

That is when the greatest of all God's compassion shines - God asks us to stand. Stand and walk a different walk. Now with a different heart. A different vision. A new song. A song of victory and freedom.

Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a pure heart O God. Renew a right spirit within me."

The truest character of God is love. Love that witholds the justice we deserve - extending mercy. Love that pours grace freely - that gives us back our dignity. Mercy and grace - like two open hands stretched out to us lifting us up to our feet again when we've fallen or been off course.

Truly through God's love . . . we STAND corrected.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beautifully Precarious - God's Perfect Balance

Hiking has become my new addiction. Having a day out with my girlfriends on a 4 hour hike up the mountain, I came across a purposely placed stack of rocks. They immediately captured my attention as I realized the methodical diligence of the person who placed them.

The stones were beautifully precarious and inspired great strength and peace. How could something so simple swell within me a feeling of power and clarity? It was a message to my soul.

In the movement of life, the busyness, the noise, there are moments of clarity that speak to us of God's timing, His big picture, His wisdom in placing and orchestrating the little and big stones in our lives as to create the pillar He wishes in our character. Often the world views it as ridiculous, small minded and foolish - and yet, to witness God's hand in your life on a personal level so deep and so rich - it is a peace that cannot be explained.

Look around you today and witness the stones that God is placing for your strength - a purposeful message that He is building something peaceful and something good in YOU. And understand that in His timing YOU are beautifully desperate for HIM - beautifully purposed, and beautifully precarious.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Staying Open

I love listening to Anthony Robbins. I'm amazed by his sense of passion and purpose as well as his logical clarity about life. I enjoy listening to his audios as I'm doing graphic design, folding laundry or getting ready in the morning.

The other day I listened to a link about finances and success. So powerful!!!!
Anthony Robbins explains that the biggest major hurdle in being truly successful (he was talking financially but I'm going to refer to emotionally) is learning to manage rejection and frustration. That's the pivitol factor in being successful. Learn to manage rejection and frustration. Because here is the kicker - when you feel rejection and frustration what do you? You give up. You stop trying. You stop investing yourself. You become cynical. Your self-discipline stops - your drive stops. In the case of a salesperson - when a customer rejects your product you may quit selling, quit cold-calling, quit attempting to sell all together.

On a personal level - emotionally - relationally - when we have been hurt by romantic love, family, friends, business partners, when we have been rejected - we may close ourselves off to the point that we no longer can let love in at all. It is the ultimate self-sabotage. We quit taking care of ourselves, we lower our goals, we lose hope, and we self-destruct. Talking from personal experience here, we close ourselves off to the very thing we want so badly.

People who are truly emotionally satisfied in life are the people who can love big - forgive big - risk big - and hope big. They know that love is out there in so many different forms and they know that love heals every brokenness. Keep your heart open even if you've been rejected in the past. Because you never know the love that waits . . . and the power it has to change your world. Stay open and let love in.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life Make-Over Steps

Filming a segment for a national award based on the non-profit Heart 2 Home, the interviewer asked me why we (our Heart 2 Home team) we do what we do? How do we do it?
Reflecting on why our team sweats, prays, begs and dreams the way we do . . . its because we can't see suffering and not feel moved to action. We hurt when we see others hurting. And, because we know our actions create solutions, we stay the course until circumstances are healed.

There is a powerful courage that is developed over time as this pattern becomes a concrete process. Feel compassion, assess the need, pray for healing and inspiration and finally, take action.

In your relationships, in your business, in your family - are YOU taking that same course of action? Do you have a burden for the people in your life - do you FEEL them? Are you moved by compassion for them? What do they NEED? When was the last time you asked them?

Are you praying for them - praying for your kids (rather than preaching to them) - praying for your spouse, your parents, your friends. Are you praying for inspiration as to how to help them in their pain, their hopes and their struggles?

And then lastly, are you taking action to assist them - support them - reaching out to them? Make the call, give the encouragement, change the circumstances, help carry the load . . .

The process has built homes for needy families here in Utah since 2004 - but its also built a mobile medical unit, spurred bone marrow donor testing across the US, and now the annual Laughing At Cancer benefit concert here in Utah. But it doesn't just work for our non-profit foundation - it works in life and love.

Looking for the steps to a life makeover?

Feel compassion outside of yourself
Assess true needs
Pray for inspiration and healing
Take action

Its the way to make-over your heart and win in life and love.