Monday, December 27, 2010

Time Falls One Direction

An hour glass tipped anew begins its release of sand grain by grain.

Mesmerized I watch. It's no secret how this happens. Gravity captures each grain of sand and moves it against its will, pulling it through the center, landing each one upon another in a growing mound in the bottom bulb.

It is a peaceful feeling - a sense of surety - until the final grains. Then, as always happens I feel a pang of anxiety for the end of the process. The last sand rushes down faster than did the first and as if flowing over Niagra Falls, the silent final sands seem to shout a haunting message.

Time only falls one direction.

As I tear another page off the calendar I have much the same feeling. December seemed to fall faster than the earlier months of the year. December hastens a new year, and as the flowing over Niagra Falls, the quiet final days of December seem to shout the same haunting message.

Time only falls one direction.

The sands fall, the clock hands turn, the calendar rolls forward, pacing, ever pacing, the experiences of our lives that make us who we are.

Heart, be ready, for the New Year and another turn of the hour glass. A new beginning. Heart, be faithful, to those hours that will be yours. What will you do with them, those hours and days? What will you fill them with, those boxes that sit empty on the calendar? Heart, be good. Use your grains, your days, your boxes to be a blessing. Heart, be thankful. There are only so many grains in the glass, only so many days . . . and only God knows that number.

Oh heart, be wise. For time only falls one direction.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stopping The Insanity For Real.

In the 1990's a mega personality emerged on the stage of infomercial late night. A bleach blonde, buzz-cut health and fitness guru named Susan Powter told the world about fitness, taking control of your life, and losing weight. She talked about pulling herself into recovery and choosing enough about her own life to stop the insanity and get results.

Her energy was loud, big and motivating. It got many women angry enough about the state of their lives that they took charge and made changes.

Fast forward to 2010. Sanity check. Susan Powter still does videos.
She still rants about health and self-esteem. But the empowerment has dulled to a tattoo'd anger, the joy and enthusiasm for life has turned to a cranky desperation. Perhaps the insanity didn't really stop?

God has a better plan. It's not based on an angry rant, a hostility for the unjust, or a new tatoo. It's based on peace, forgiveness, kindness and honesty. It's based on healing, clarity of thought and timeless principles.

The only way insanity really ever stops is when God is in charge of our lives completely. Driven by our own insanity we all will fall short and the glitter will all fade.

No super hype late-night guru will ever lead you better than the God of the Universe can. He created you for greatness, greater than any 20 minute infomercial gadget or catch phrase. The steps He needs you to take are raw and real but can change you forever.

Today's the day. Stop the insanity - your own insanity. Stop the ranting and the craziness. Let God lead. For real this time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Starting Over - Way Over

I met Stacy Hanson as he lay in a hospital room weeks after he'd been shot in Trolley Square mall. He told us about the 18 year-old gunman . . . how he showed no emotion as he shot innocent people in the parking lot and then in the stores . . . and how Stacy had just been at the wrong place at the wrong time, buying a Valentine's day card for his wife. The injuries sustained by the bullets would paralyze Stacy and place him in a wheelchair.

It would be almost a year later that I would witness Stacy take his first assisted steps - in that very same hospital. Towering over 6 feet tall Stacy struggled to move his braced legs . . . one at a time.

The wheelchair will always be needed, but the attempts at mobility are monumental. Each attempt strengthens the muscles, reminds the tissues, and is a witness of the soul's yearning for freedom. It is incremental and elementary. It is starting over.

Life is not linear. It is not a horizontal beam, nor is it a staircase to be climbed, but more a circle of learning and relearning, coming and becoming. Sometimes to move ahead we must go back, farther back than we want in most cases, to retrieve the parts of ourselves that we have left there.

A grown man sweating and struggling with his second first steps. And rejoicing that he moved his legs of his own accord. Truly a miracle. Not one he would have chosen out of wishing to be a better person, but definately one he chose out of wanting to be free.

Sometimes to move forward it feels like we're going back. Remember, life is not linear. Trust that God brings it all back around. And you will be better for it. Even if it means starting over. Way over.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


A long time ago far far away I learned the word "Unprecedented".

It was in the introductory remarks of my brother-in-law's speaking video. The faceless emcee of the video began . . . "in a world of unprecedented change . . . " and it continued on to feature the speaking of the legendary Art Berg.

I heard that introduction a million times and still did not know what the word meant. When I looked it up in the dictionary I realized it was a word that would change my life.

un-pre-ce-dent-ed: adj. never before experienced or seen

The one thing I've learned for certain in my life is that to get a different result you MUST change something in the equation. To get more, soar higher, achieve better, love deeper, see clearer . . . you can't do what you've always done.

Precedented therefore is habit. Pattern. Repeat. Same same. Like it's always been. Taking the same road, pursuing the same goals, failing in the same manner, and settling in the same ways . . . for the same results.

As I've pulled that word "Unprecedented" into my heart and soul - embracing it as I realize how very much I need what it offers - I recognize that it also means letting go of what's "precedented", the prison, the non-productive, the comfortably wrong, the expected.

God I don't want to be the norm. I don't want to be inprisoned by what I've always been. I want to be more. I believe you want that for me too.

Make me a new creature in YOU. With a new heart, new eyes, new vision. So that I can experience life UNPRECEDENTED - as I've never ever experienced it before.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Interactive "We"

Two of my daughters really struggle. They are so different in their personalities that they sometimes butt heads. Ok, most of the time they butt heads. One loves horses, the other loves bling. One loves the granola look, the other loves make-up. One loves country music, the other loves hip-hop. They just could not be more polar opposite.

Every time they get on each other's last nerve I tell them the same thing. "One day, you two will adore each other. You will call each other on the phone regularly, share struggles, unload the heartaches of raising kids, ask help with financial burdens, and confide about your marriages. One day, you'll be estatic to see each other." They look at me like I'm an alien.

Honestly it makes me laugh. But I know I'm right.

I don't know where I'd be without my sisters.

Really, my family in general. There have been ups and downs and sideways - and still, I know it is my family that keeps me on track, keeps me asking the right questions and focused on the right answers. It's my family that builds me up, convicts me with grace when I'm erring, and encourages me when I'm lost. It is my family (and especially my many sisters) that knows me better than I know myself.

I believe God made it that way. I believe He wanted us to be surrounded by people who would have an impact in our lives so powerfully that in spite of our humanness, and our dysfunction, it would continue to draw us home. I see it with my own children.

Families - our Interactive "We" - built by God to surround us in support, discipline, silliness and love.

I'm grateful for technology, but I thank God for the invention of families. What a smarty pants God is. The whole time I was teasing my little sisters and begging them to go play with their own friends instead of mine . . . God knew . . . that one day, we would adore each other. We'd call each other on the phone regularly, share struggles, unload the heartaches of raising kids, ask help with financial burdens, and confide about our marriages. And one day, we would be ecstatic to see each other again.

Oh how blessed my life is because of my family.

Thank you God. For the interactive "we" You've created.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Nickel At A Time

Relationships are a lot like bank accounts. Deposits increase the reservoir, while withdrawals decrease it. Every interaction, in or out, has an effect on the total. As I look at my bank statement I see that even when I think my accounts are innactive there is still a monthly fee, or on some accounts a return with interest. Daily I must log on and carefully determine how to manage each account so I don't end up in the red.

Sadly, just like bank accounts, relationships can end up in the negative. How does this happen? Every single one of us WANTS to be in the black. Every single one of us WANTS to be successful. Nobody PURPOSELY chooses to be destitute or go bankrupt.

The hardest part is watching what hangs in the balance and at the smallest level, evaluating the negatives, even if they are a nickel at a time. It is those nickels that pull the balance lower and lower. Unwatched, unchecked, unaccounted for . . . even nickels can pull an account to zero.

Watch the real deposits. See the real costs. Daily, even hourly, acknowledge the bottom line.

As any successful investor or financial planner will tell you that the greatest success or the greatest demise, happens a nickel at at time.

The wonderful thing is that even for the simplest of minds (and I definately put myself in this category) managing a nickel at a time is doable.

As I open my purse I see silver coins at the bottom that yesterday I overlooked. I haven't been paying attention. Taking a nickel from the bottom I memorize the stamped impression.

Today I will begin seeing my nickels for what they really are.

In my bank and in my relationships. A nickel at a time is doable.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Forcing Bulbs

Some things you can force. Some things you can't.

Like love. You can't force love. Like a butterfly it hangs beautifully in the air, silently watching, testing the safety, then landing and extending itself, opening more as the safety increases. Love rests and spreads its wings when it finds a place of peace and warmth.

Bulbs are similar. The term "forcing" bulbs is a misperception, for you see, it is not a "forcing" at all. It is only the creation and nourturing of an environment that lends itself to growth. Water, sunlight, gently being held in place . . . the bulb cannot hold back . . . but is completely drawn out by the irresistable warmth. Even in winter.

Children are this way, marriage and friendships are this way, flourishing ventures are this way . . . it is about the environment. Certainly it is about the passion. But, not about the "forcing" of anything.

You cannot force people to buy, you cannot force children to be endeared, you cannot force joy, you cannot force trust. You can only participate in the creation of safety, warmth and peace.

A butterfly hovers silently beside you in your life. Are you safe enough, warm enough, and at peace enough for wings to land and open? Is your influence irresistable and your kindness and compassiona a refuge? Hunger for that presence and peace. Let your life be a creation of that kind of compassion and nourturing.

You see, you can never truly force bulbs.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Truth Is Brewing

Five o'clock each morning Mr.Coffee begins steaming and sputtering. The caffeine infused vapor rises up the stairway into the loft of the master bedroom - and I pull on my comfy booties, oversized white sweatshirt, and shuffle down to kitchen. Pouring myself a mug of hello - I wrap myself up in a blanket on the couch with my bible. And as everyday begins with my coffee, every devotional begins with my same prayer.

"God, I'm so small in my thinking. I know that. You are so great. Please open my eyes to what you need me to see. Call me out of my brokenness and show me a better way."

And it's as if since God knows I will meet Him there in those early morning hours, He places the verses in order for me to find them like a path of breadcrumbs. They unfold like a conversation in the old Kung Fu movies where young grasshopper is taught by the sage in the flickering lights of a thousand candles.

Today the words press into my heart . . .

"We can gather our thoughts, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your work to the Lord and then your plans will succeed." Psalms 16:1-3

And in the kitchen Mr.Coffee sputters. Ahh. Truth is brewing.

Today God reminds me that He, the Master of the Universe is examining my motives. And, as the verse says, I see myself pure and noble, even though, as I bow my head with the realization, I clearly am not. I do have ego. I do have agendas. I do want my way. And I do hurt people. Ugh.

"God let truth brew within me. Let me listen to YOUR right answer, not my own or one made of my own perceptions and selfish wants. Let me see success WITH you, not in and of myself. For then, it will truly be success."

So thankful that God meets me each morning, Him and Mr. Coffee . . . and I get to keep learning about what is right and real.

Truth. My cup runneth over.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Courage To Stand

There are times in our lives when courage, like the tide, ebbs and flows. Some days we have more courage, other days, having been beaten down by stress or loss, our courage is depleted. Honestly, in the last little while, my courage meter has been very low. Thus began my paddle boarding adventure.

Visiting my friend Sheri at her new digs close to Malibu, we remarked a lone woman paddling away on a sparkling ocean at sunset. "We should do THAT!" Sheri squealed. Instantly the safety list in my head began in decending order . . . starting with sharks and ending somewhere in the land of salt water stinging my eyes. Seeing her enthusiasm I was quickly crooned into a nearby board shop, complete with surfer staff and lei-clad mannequins.

Within minutes we were donning wetsuits on the beach with paddles in hand and yellow boards at our feet. Balancing on the sand was good practice for foot placement but would offer zero practice at the real challenge: standing up on the same board adding swells and waves to the effort.

Our instructor hooped and hallored from the shore as we paddled frantically into the surf, trying to time our pass into the deep between the crashing waves. Minutes later all of us were beyond the crashing waves and out into the big blue. And there the lesson began.

First kneeling and paddling for practice, then wide stance, STAND. Using the paddle to propel the board in the desired direction, but also using it as a balance, a newfound delight took hold of my heart. A delight called COURAGE.

As each swell would wobble me, and I would lean away, hold my board to balance, and manage to stay standing, I could feel a passion growing, just as the smile on my face continued to broaden. I was standing - in the ocean - on a bright yellow board. I had paddled out into the deep. I had challenged my fears - and I was standing.

Never will I forget the elation I felt standing on the ocean. It was a reminder to my soul that limits are of our own making. And thus, so is adventure. We get to choose the passion we pursue, the adventures we seek, and the happiness and peace we feel in it all.

It just takes the courage to stand where we've been afraid to stand before.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ridiculous in Tights - Relational Cross-Training

Some months ago I had the opportunity to see Olympic Medalist Apolo Ohno in person. Speaking at a huge arena in downtown Salt Lake City, dressed in a sleek black suit, the young athlete took the 20 x 20 foot stage, and poured out his soul to the thousands of strangers in stories of tiered seating.

No regrets. Training with a "no regrets" philosophy. Performing at his ultimate best. And then, how being a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars" actually made him a better speed skater on the ice.

It was a different discipline, a different challenge, a different training, and definately a different way of seeing his own personality. Each week on the show he would learn tangos and shuffles that he would never use on the ice, ingrained only to pull him through a 3 minute routine on a dance floor in front of the American TV audience. It stretched him. It pushed him out of everything he knew about himself, competition, and training. In fact, it was completely, laughably, random. Which made him so much better.

In our most significant relationships, the ones in which we have the most to lose or gain, the ones which define us the most, the ones in which we find our identity, I do believe once in a while God cross-trains us. He takes us completely and laughably, out of our previous training and places us in a foreign environment. All for the sake of rounding us out, stretching us, and helping us see ourselves differently. Completely, laughably, different. Seems random. But its not.

Our roles change, from mother, to nurse, to coach, to friend, to accountability partner, to confidante.

Our disciplines change, from meekness, to leadership, to mentoring, to encouraging, to patient listener, to laying down the law, to goal setter.

It's embarrassing to cross-train. As, in Ohno's experience, knowing that America is glued to their TV's, shocked to see a testosterone exuding speed skater donning tights and nickers . . . the movements are awkward, forced, foreign. The daily changing and stretching painful and choppy. New habits lending their way to fluid movements.

And then, lifting someone else. And then winning the highest number of Olympic medals in Winter Olympics - EVER.

Relational cross-training. God does that. He knows changing up the disciplines will make us champions. Even when we hate being embarrassed by the training it takes.

So if your life seems random and what your relationships require of you is a skill set you never possessed, and you wonder if you ever can . . . you're in heavenly cross-training my friend.

Don't let the tights bug you. It's all part of it. Just go with it. Because when you look back on your life, it will be the cross-training that will have taught you to not only compete for the gold, but to truly dance.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pitching For The Hiroshima Carp

We all have big dreams. With our God-given talents and abilities we build our dreams with the sky-is-the-limits attitude. And then, life happens.

A young baseball player, a pitcher by skill, charting his course to baseball success. Each step along the way building upon the last and his future seems to whisper victory. And then a rotator cuff injury. And then, a shot in the spotlight . . . pulled in to cover for an injured Major League player goes terribly - a horrible first impression given to the major leagues when the green hopeful crumbles under the big lights.

And then worse.

"Hey man, I heard you left the country. What are you up to these days?"

"Uh. still playing ball. Yeh, I'm playing with the Hiroshima Carp."

"The what? chuckle chuckle. You're playing for the WHO??????"

"I know, I know. looking down at his sneakers Yeh, me and my family we moved to Japan. I'm playing for the Hiroshima Carp."

That's rough. Not what a "wanna be" superstar wants to admit. I'm playing for a Japaneese team - the Carp team. Do you know Carp? Are you kidding? There is nothing grand about Carp. It's not powerful like a viking or a giant or a tiger.

And yet, tonight as I watch the World Series, a confident Colby Lewis shoots a steel glare at the batter, and winds up his arm ready to unleash a bullet.

When asked if he was nervous about the World Series, Colby says, "No. Uprooting my family and moving to Japan for me to play for the Carp? That scared me. This does not scare me."

You see, that detour that hurt his ego, that detour that was so unplanned, embarrassing, degrading, upsetting, which he could have seen as an impossibility worthy of scrapping a career . . . actually turned out to be the detour that he needed. The additional training, the focus, the redirection of playing for the Carp made him a better player . . . which he admits . . .and today . . . he is a champion with his team playing in the World Series.

Has your path ever taken a detour? Do you have a black eye from a bad experience in the major leagues of life? Are you down and out? Are you alone in the dugout with your cap in your hand scanning the empty seats littered with empty paper cups wondering the fate of your big dreams after what's just happened?

Maybe God's got you pitching for the Carp right now on a detour that is training you up for the big leagues. You see, in God's training no effort goes wasted. He is raising you up to be better than you ever knew.

Keep pitching. Even if it's for the Carp for a while.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Friendly Fire

The Washington Post told the story, "Kidnapped British aid worker in Afghanistan killed in NATO rescue attempt". She was 36 years old. Speaking of her profound love and commitment to her cause, the story continued . . .

"We are saddened beyond words by the death of a wonderful woman whose sole purpose in Afghanistan was to do good - to help the Afghan people achieve a measure of prosperity and stability in their everyday lives as they set about rebuilding their country," James Boomgard, the president and chief executive of DAI, said in a statement. "Linda loved Afghanistan and cared deeply for its people, and she was deeply committed to her development mission. She was an inspiration to many of us here at DAI and she will be deeply missed."

As forces were amassed, as the intensive rescue operation was planned, as skilled teams set forth to risk their lives, they knew there was a possibility that people would be hurt, even dying, to leverage the retrieval of this one woman.

Sadly, after much investigation, one of the lives lost in the rescue attempt was the very life which was sought to save. Linda's.

It was the last thing people wanted to see happen. It broke hearts, devastated family members and horrified those who walked through the rubble.

It was a failure.

Or was it? When we endeavor to rescue, when we set our path to save, sometimes people do get hurt even when the motives are noble.

Friendly fire. A risk in all great endeavors. The last thing anyone wants to see, and yet, a risk we take in our deepest relationships, pursuit of our dreams, most compassionate attempts to reach out, save, protect . . . and yet, without taking that risk all would be lost anyway.

Take the risk. Rescue what is lost. Free what is captive. Life is about redemption.

Risk the possibility of being wrong, the possibility of making huge mistakes, even loss, for the possibility of saving something precious.

Risks of the greatest kind are the seed to the most powerful miracles. Hurt is always a possibility in any great and impossible endeavor. And the attempt is the only way you know for sure what is truly possible . . .

Thursday, October 21, 2010

All She Knew Was She Loved Monkeys

Destiny. Anthony Robbins touts about his "blind date with Destiny". We all are pursuing it, actively or passively. What is "my" destiny? How will I find it? Does God have it written out for me? Is it in pieces like a puzzle in front of me waiting for me to put all the edges together first and then fill in the middle?

My eyes and heart scan the horizon for stories of Destiny. How did other women find theirs or essentially carve theirs out of life like a stone David . . .

And I find the story of Jane Goodall. The woman who single-handedly set the scientific community in an uproar over discoveries in the monkey community and whose name will go down in history as the woman who lived among them. Did she know at the start that would be her legacy, her destiny? I think not. She just knew she liked monkeys. That was all.

A young Jane Goodall went into the jungles of the Gombe Stream Game Reserve with basically no education to speak of, not even an undergraduate degree. She just wanted to watch monkeys.

As she observed she found "Greybeard" - the old chimp that opened her eyes to the depth of the monkey connection. From him she learned insights, patterns and habits that would put in question previous understanding. Greybeard changed paradyms in Jane's mind, as well as the paradyms in science and history. What she thought she knew, what the scientific community thought they knew, was about to change forever.

And thus is the pattern. A desire, a "like" an attraction, a "love" draws us to a new place. In that new place we find teachers and lessons that change us. And that learning, that changing, is our destiny.

What are you being drawn to? What new unconquered terrain are you compelled to explore? And who are the teachers around you? Are your paradyms shifting? Is your thinking being challenged?

Your destiny requires you to move out of your comfort zone and learn and change.

The root being love - because love draws us out. It compels us to stretch.

Great women of destiny have been drawn out for love - Ruth Hadler in her creation of Barbie, Princess Diana in her love of those sick with AIDS, Mother Teresa in her compassion for the dying, "Daisy" Low who founded the Girl Scouts of America in her encouragement of teenage girls discovering the great outdoors....each a destiny which drew them out for love.

A blind date with destiny doesn't have to be so blind. The heart sees it clearly. Follow love and your destiny will follow.

All Jane knew was she loved monkeys.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hmmm...Paris. One more item on my life list - check. Never thought I could ever go back. Beautiful. Magical.

This song brings muted images in black and white . . . it's been 20 years and still the thought of the Eiffel Tower in the back drop, the bridges, the culture, the taste . . .

Here's the link to Benton Paul's song "Paris" . . . feel the cobblestones . . . homesick for a black and white life - and an understanding for the shades of gray.

There comes a time for everyone
To find a place where they belong
Feeling alone out on the ocean

Yours and mine are different yet the same
Go out, come back again
Harboring most of the emotion

Quand tu arrives a Paris
(when you arrive in Paris)
Tu ne veux pas partir
(you won't want to leave)
Quand tu arrives a Paris
(when you arrive in Paris)
Tu ne peux que sentir
(you can't help but feel)
L’amour, la joie
(love, joy)
Tu veux jamais rentrer
(you won't ever want to go home)
L’amour, la joie
(love, joy)
Tu veux jamais rentrer chez-toi
(you won't ever want to go home)

You climb aboard and sail away
Beyond the stars of everyday
Searching for some clear direction

The shore gets closer everyday
The clouds begin to fade
The compass reveals your destination

Quand tu arrives a Paris
(when you arrive in Paris)
Tu ne veux pas partir
(you won't want to leave)
Quand tu arrives a Paris
(when you arrive in Paris)
Tu ne peux que sentir
(you can't help but feel)
L’amour, la joie
(love, joy)
Tu veux jamais rentrer
(you won't ever want to go home)
L’amour, la joie
(love, joy)
Tu veux jamais rentrer chez-toi
(you won't ever want to go home)

Beautiful. Magical.

Homesick in black and white.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reverse Psychology - Run The Other Way

Run the other way. I'm learning I say that to myself.

There is such a tendency to pick up your bat and ball and go home. It's natural. We get our feelings hurt. We feel discouraged. We want to give up.

And wow. Isn't that our ultimate demise in achieving any great pursuit? Giving up or giving out robs us of victory.

Sometimes we see our losses and close our hearts. "I don't want another puppy" as we bow our heads and decide love and dreams will never grow where despair and hurt reside. It's too heavy. It's too hard.

Yet, when we fall to our knees and unpack those bags of hurt and pain and loss at the feet of Jesus . . . what consistantly happens is from behind His white robe He extends a warm hand, holding a newborn fluffy yellow chick. A new dream. A dream that needs us. A dream with a future.

And He asks us to stay and nourture it and love and grow . . . and He trades our filthy rags and clutter for that baby chick.

And we don't want to run anymore. We want to participate and be needed and make a difference.

God has an irresistable influence in our lives by the way He changes us when we want to run away. Running is OUR nature. HIS nature is the opposite - He draws us out by our bigger desire . . . to be used in the hand of God.

Wanting to run away in your life?

Hold out your hand.

God gave me a little yellow peeping fluffy chick to give you . . . smile. God knows you. And He knows in your heart you don't want to run. You want to stay. You want to love. You want to grow. You want to be amazing. It's as easy as holding your dreams as sweetly as you would this little baby chick.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Peace-Loving in the City

At night I love to open the blinds to my master bedroom window and fall asleep watching the lights of the city twinkling on the horizon. It is a peaceful feeling that is comforting in a way I can't quite explain.

In my bible time I came across a story in which a specific phrase keeps echoing in my mind. Here is the setting:

2 Samuel 20:14-22 Sheba was an evil wanted man. He escaped to a city called Abel and hid himself among the people there. Joab and his army was searching for Sheba. Recognizing that in their pursuit of Sheba, the entire city of Abel could be destroyed, a woman of wisdom came to the wall of the city and had a very straitforward conversation with Joab. "I am one who is peaceloving in this city. Why do you want to destroy us?" (paraphrasing)

To which Joab replied "I do not want to destroy your city. I only want Sheba."

The story concludes with the woman and her fellow citizens giving Joab what he needed and peace in the city was maintained.

In our relationships we often become defensive and build walls. We can feel threatened and frustrated when we feel attacked. This is normal.

What shows wisdom however is when we say what we need concisely, and find out what the Other needs. How can we maintain our city, our boundaries, our sovereignty, and also give the Other what they need? Is there a way to do both? Many times both parties are looking for resolve and peace.

Ponder the statement of that wise woman . . . "I am one who is peaceloving . . . " If your goal is to be at peace, grow peace, flourish in it, and nourture peace . . . stand in that place firmly and listen.

That is powerful holy ground. Find it.

Before I close my eyes tonight I will open my blinds and God and I are going to have a conversation. As I drift away in the glimmer of twinkling lights, my heart will be asked, "have you been peaceloving?"

God bless me to be that person today -

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Sky Is Falling

Our family went to Lake Powell for a few days last week. The weather was amazing and the water was perfect. We squealed as we tubed the lake, sweated as we hiked the incredible red rocks, and enjoyed friends and random silliness. We camped our tents a 20-minute boat ride from the marina and soaked up the scenery completely.

I'll never forget being awaken during the night by boulders pulling away from their settings and crumbling to new places. In all of my trips to Lake Powell I'd never experienced that. The thundering echoed like the cracking of a bowling ball into pin after pin - only louder - shaking the ground. In the dark we could not see the boulders cracking and tumbling but the reality left us all speechless. We were not in danger's way . . . but as the waves of breaking rock echoed, we all had a sense of awe and smallness. That night the landscape changed.

This morning I received a text from my daughter that a dear friend had passed away in the night. As well, the news reported that a handfull of homes had been lost to a tragic wildfire just cities away from ours. And on facebook I sadly noted two police officers were killed in their vehicles as they sped to help others. The landscape has changed forever overnight for many families.

To realize we are simply visitors here, that we are surrounded by forces we do not control, and that the landscape is always changing, ebbing, flowing, building and falling . . . it is powerful.

What is my part God? What DO I control?

We control relationships. That is all. We get to choose who we love and how we love on this journey. We affirm our character and our humanity by the way we reach out and encourage, bless, and carry those who suffer when the landscape does change.

Today the landscape is forever changed for someone. Be there.

It's all part of the big picture. In reality, that IS the big picture.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rocks Float

There are seasons in our lives when it seems our BIGGEST personal demons surface and shout in our faces - it's as if the skeletons in that dark corner closet come out and demand to be addressed. They taunt us, tempt us, insult us and scare us . . . reminding us in the most venomous ways that we've failed before. They want us to fail again and speak so convicingly that we will always be bound by them.

These could be money failures, relationship failures, sins, self-destructive habits, secret passions, anger issues, or trust issues. At certain seasons even a combination of these smack us with a 1-2 punch and we feel down for the count. Even though we want success, when these issues come to the surface so big, so loud, so obvious . . . we can't help but doubt our own strength against them.

My friend Kirk Weisler, a motivational speaker and phenomenal story-teller, told me a principle that has made all the difference. He told me about a truth that occurs in nature that baffles - until you understand the reality behind it.

"Rocks float." That's what Kirk told me. "Yeh, they do! It's the craziest thing! You wouldn't think so, but they do. You see, when smaller pieces of dirt, sand, small pebbles shift with the movements of the earth, they settle in and the larger size rocks move up. The boulders are not really floating, but they are moved out by the settling . . . the layers settle and the rocks at the top become visible."

That understanding has helped me greatly when I feel barraged by "issues" that surface in my life. As I sit in my bible/prayer time with God, I realize large boulder size issues come to the surface when I am making progress, when there is movement and transition - good transition and growth in my life. WHEN I am at a pivitol point in my life or my career and WHEN I am about to see UNPRECEDENTED success emotionally and spiritually, that settling brings the rocks, the boulders, the big demons, the unfinished business, the personal dragons, straight to the top.

I get to choose what I will then do with them.

In the past I have often chosen to burry those big boulders again - deep down so I don't have to do the emotional work and drag them off my property. But I've found if I don't deal with the boulders they just find another time to pop up in my face.

I'm learning I must push and hoist and heave and sweat and get rid of the big rocks.

I want my life to grow more than just boulders. I want to sleep at night with no demons, no secrets, no addictions, no cracks in my integrity, no fear.

So let the rocks float.

And God give me the courage to see them for what they are.

Proof that I am settling. Proof that I am growing. Proof that they give me the opportunity to be more than I ever was before.

If I rely on THE Rock...the one true keeper of the vineyard...the one who wants to grow abundance in my life...and the one who knows my burdens better than anyone. The only one who can help me move those heavy boulders forever.


Who's helping you with your big rocks?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Know How YOU Learn

I've been bit by the fishing bug in the last couple of months. Yeh, hook line and . . . Barbie pole.

I bought it at Walmart - ok, it's not a "Barbie" brand fishing pole, but it is pink and it is for beginners. I bought it as a starter pole because the line is enclosed in a cute pink and silver ball, helping me avoid the problematic and frustrating rat's nest that I seemed to consistently create while borrowing Scott's more "advanced" open spooled reel.

That worked peachy for basic fishing. Now I want to grow in my level of fishing from the once-a-year fisher girl to the oh-yeh-she's-a-pro fisher girl. So, I bought an open spooled reel and we headed up to our favorite mountain lake.

It was bad. Very bad.

Within minutes I had twenty-two feet of tangled line. Then the confusion set in. Followed by the situational tourettes, the swearing, the getting frustrated, and the ensuing disgust at myself for spending the money on the new reel when I clearly could not do it.

And then the practicing. Casting for the 99th time. Then the 100th. Then 101st. And finally . . . ugh. I could do it.

I've never been a fast learner. I swear it takes me 101 times to get good at stuff.

But my learning always takes the same route:

Want something.
Take a leap and commit.
Get really confused.
Then get ticked off because I'm stuck.
Then I swear.
Then in frustration I usually lash out at the people around me.
And I keep trying.
And KEEP trying.
And tell myself over and over to KEEP trying.
And then I get it.
And then to a stranger it looks like it was easy for me.
Ya right.

I'm working on the NOT lashing out in frustration at the people around me as I learn things. And, I'm working on being more patient with myself as I struggle to learn.

But one thing that really helps me achieve my goals is to know HOW I learn and then with any given goal, understand where I am at in MY learning curve. Understanding me, understanding HOW I learn, and understanding that I CAN grow and achieve what I really really want . . . that is helpful AND empowering.

Friend, perhaps you need to map out YOUR learning pattern. Because right now you might just be one good cast from achieving your goal. I know you want to grow in your competencies at things. I know you want to feel successful. You'll never get there if you give up today. Just keep casting. 99. 100. 101.

Keep, keep, keep casting. Today just might be the day. And it's gonna feel so good to retire that pink Barbie pole. ; )

Friday, August 6, 2010

Our Biggest Fear - Being Exposed

There are statistics that indicate the BIGGEST fear most people share is being put on the spot - be it giving a presentation at work, answering a question in front of the class, or failing in public. Our greatest fear is being exposed.

Probably every one of you has had that dream . . . you know the one . . . where you show up to school or work in your underclothes. Duh-nuh.

It's paralyzing. Everyone is looking at you.
You look down at you.
The Spiderman boxer shorts, then your knobby knees, and then your toes, scared strait and white knuckling the pavement like monkey feet as you look down.
Ugh. Uh-oh.

But there is a greater fear that is so painful . . . the showing up in underclothes doesn't even compare.

It's showing up with our sin exposed.

Greater than our fear of botching a toast at wedding, bigger than our fear of doing the algebra problem wrong on the chalkboard, and more terrifying than exposing our Spiderman briefs . . . we fear others will find out about our "sin problem".

That fear, my friend, robs us of grace.

You see, when a person denies they have weakness, they deny the need for grace.

I've found in my life the moments of true freedom have been the moments that I confess my weaknesses to friends and family and ask for grace and accountability. It is at those times that God helps me face my greatest fear.

Exposing your sin invites grace. Be honest right now. What sin are you hiding? What do you fear others will say or do if you come clean?

My friend, God is good. Grace IS amazing. You are a wrech. So am I. We all have ugly sides, and skeletons that need healing. Accountability equals growth and change. Don't you want growth and change?

Find places and people that love God more than they love you. They are a soft place to land in the freefall of honesty. Confess what you're working on. Admit it. Invite grace in.

For then, living transparent, you will fear NOTHING. And even in your Spiderman boxers you'll feel confident. I promise.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Baiting The Bottom Dwellers

A couple of weeks ago the kids and I went to Lake Powell - one of the most beautiful places on earth with blue water, intense red rock canyons and private pristine coves.

One morning I woke early and tip-toed from my sleeping bag, grasped my pink fishing pole quietly and stepped across the rock to the water's edge. Having run out of powerbait the night before, and wanting to have a yummy catfish fry this morning, I broke off a dime scooped piece of hot dog and placed it ever so invitingly on the three pronged hook.

Casting the line 20 feet out, with my happy morning toes wiggling as I sat on the fire hydrant sized boulder, I began singing " . . . 'cause Oscar Meyer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N- hey!!!!!!! WHOAAAAAAAAA!!!! OH my gosh, oh my gosh . . . "

Standing and wrestling with my pole as it dragged left, then right, I realized it was not a plant I'd snagged under the water, but a HUGE fish! Sadly though it was not a catfish, but a carp - not the breakfast I had hoped for.

Giddy that I'd enjoyed my first battle with a big fish, I loaded another hot dog and cast again. This time hoping for a whiskered kitty fish on the end of my line. SNAP! Withing minutes, another bite, another exhilerating battle with another Oscar Meyer loving fish . . . and again, another carp.

The carp were loving the hot dogs. But I didn't want carp. I was beginning to understand that certain bait catches certain fish. What I was putting out there was attracting specific results. And, carp, a bottom dweller, was not the result I wanted. I surrendered and had Raisin Bran for breakfast.

This past weekend we went to Vegas. A whole different type of environment with a whole different type of fish.

I watched as people were baited, hooks set, and reeled in by the advertising, the branding, the imagery, the sex, the appetites, the intrigues. I watched how people were lured and almost hypnotized by the lights, the alcohol and the anonymity. I watched how some swam at the top - taking in the talent and adventure and the good fun - while others lost everything, their moral compass, even their dignity, and stood with signs begging for a dollar desperate to gamble it away or drink it down with a cheap Vodka.

Every one of us is being baited. Call it capitalism, call it temptation, call it the law of attraction . . . whatever you call it, what hooks you, what keeps you, what inspires or enslaves you, will give you clues about your character.

Do you hang out in the fresh water, swim with the dophins, or are you a bottom dweller, gulping down anything that could possibly satisfy in the moment?

Something catches our eye, attracts us and pulls us in.

A word to the wise . . . be careful what that is my friend. It's all fun and games til the oil in the pan starts to sizzle . . .

Thursday, July 22, 2010

BINGO! Seeing Yellow

Driving with the kids in the car it is only a matter of minutes on the asphalt before someone shouts "BINGO!". Confirming excitedly a yellow vehicle of some kind, the BINGO caller is now a point ahead of the others in the car. From then on the rest of us are on a keen lookout.

It's become quite the obsession really. There is shouting and pointing and heckling going on until we arrive at our destination - even if its hours away.

The big kahuna though is the elusive pink car. And if its a volkwagon bug? Whatch out! (how does Scott always discover those hidden somewhere in a tiny parking lot?)

It is a challenge to strain your eyes and discipline yourself to pick out the BINGO from the gazillion non-point cars.

So . . . why?

Because it makes life better. Period.

Now does it really? We're still in a car, still traveling the miles (and sometimes many many miles while on our family vacations)and still a captive audience fighting traffic and bad drivers. But, the very discipline of looking for the win, THAT is an AWESOME life skill.

You see, there is a part of the brain that is the recognizing system, technically speaking, called the Reticular Activator System. It will find evidence for ANYTHING you train it to find. Tell it to find evidence that you're a failure? IT WILL. Tell it to find evidence that no one likes you? IT WILL. Allow it to build a case that life is hard and love will let you down? IT WILL. Train it to find hope and inspiration among the gazillion other emotions and IT WILL.

Just like spotting the yellow bug in the grocery store parking lot, hidden behind that huge delivery truck . . . the second you see that bright yellow hub of a wheel you feel the excitement popping inside your throat like you know the answer on the final level of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" . . . and . . . "BINGO!!!!!!!!!!"

See yellow. See hope. See inspiration, success, goodness . . .

Why? Because it makes life better. Period.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Suspended In Time

I've been reading about suspension bridges. Built under precarious conditions, over chasms deep and wide and raging, suspension bridges make traversing a great divide possible.

Reading about James Roebling in 1951 who took the challenge - bridge the Niagara River Gorge - 825 feet across, 200 feet down, over rushing tumbling water 37.4 million gallons per minute. With faith, vision and a sense of purpose, Roebling built that bridge to the amazement of the world. First crossing with a kite, then a cable, then a carriage. He led the way and showed the impossible . . . was.

As I look through photographs I see that's what Paul did for so many of us.

Life and death so polar opposites. Or so it seems. And God? Seems so far away sometimes. When troubles come, stress invades, money dwindles and health escapes us . . . that chasm between where we are and where God sits . . . at times seems greater, deeper, and more dangerous in nature than Niagra Falls.

But Paul . . . what you did in such a gentle way . . . was you somehow create a bridge for so many of us to cross. Every surgery you faithfully and courageously endured, every treatment you embraced, every humorous angle in the suffering you found, every get together where you took the stage and made us forget OUR troubles . . . every one of those was a cable to the bridge you were building.

We did not see it at the time.

But days, weeks, months and a year has passed . . . and we got used to praying, got used to begging God for help, got used to looking for "the pony" in the piles of manure . . .

And now every time troubles come, stress invades, money dwindles and health escapes . . . there is a bridge to cross BECAUSE we saw you do it. You were afraid and still walked the walk. Your life was ending and you still had things that made you laugh and be grateful. You CHOSE to thank God instead of curse Him. As your friends, as your family, it was relavent to us, it mattered to us and it changed US. Now our job is to build bridges too - be God seekers too - walk the walk too.

Someday we will meet you on the other side of that great chasm.

Thank you for walking the walk and showing us how, as real people, we can live lives FOR God and WITH God.

Your life and the journey we walked with you, built a bridge.

Til we meet again on the other side . . . you taught us amazing timeless lessons and we are forever changed. Thank you for building that bridge and leaving such a powerful legacy that it ushers people over great chasms still . . . to a God that loves them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Phantom Pain

Many of my friends are in wheelchairs. Through association with the Utah Wheelchair Rugby team, as well as my connection with several motivational speakers, I have come to understand much about disabilities, handicaps and the loss of limbs and body function. Having assisted many beginning speakers who have overcome the emotional setbacks of a paralyzing accident or illness, I have learned many of the stages of acceptance that a person must go through when they become a paraplegic or quadreplegic. It hasn't been my life journey . . . but in a very real sense I understand losing extentions of yourself and the way it can paralyze your life if you let it.

A newly injured person has to come to a place of acceptance - a place where they understand the tools that will now assist them; a wheelchair, a walker, a cathetar . . and appreciate the value of the freedom these tools offer as opposed to resenting them and viewing them as prisons or punishments.

A newly injured person must at some point come to terms with their new circumstances and even rise to a place of gratitude for the life they still have . . . acknowledging that each moment is truly a gift and is endowed with a purpose and passion for which they were created and sent into this world.

A newly injured person must come to such a place of spiritual awareness as to be able to see photographs of themselves, photographs and images taken prior to the tragedy, prior to the loss, to see themselves with their limbs, standing, able bodied . . . and have them same level of gratitude and peace as they feel when they look in the mirror today.

If not, or until they can, the newly injured person will be angry, blame God, resent life, and act out with displaced hatred and depression . . . phantom pain. The pain of longing for a life that can produce no movement, no growth, no positive momentum.

There is a difference between grieving a loss . . . and coming to a sense of personal clarity for one's life and purpose . . . versus longing without fruition. Phantom pain.

Because I have watched some of THE most successful people - Paul Berg and Art, Clay Egan, Chad Hymas, Ken Reid, Briana Walker - not only face tragedy courageously, but wrap their hearts and mind around their new circumstances, and embrace it as a mission and a launching pad for higher thinking - because I knew that kind of resilience was possible . . . a year ago I prayed this prayer . . .

"God, I've seen other people rise from pain and allow it to awaken them. I've seen amazing individuals, Paul, Clay, Art and Chad and others take their pain and allow it to recreate them, build them, empower them to live life more fully. Please help me move from phantom pain, from longing, from resentment into a place of wholeness, a place of gratitude, a place of acceptance for my new life. Help me not resent my new circumstances but allow YOU to grow me . . . on purpose."

A year ago I knew I was destined to self-destruct in pain and longing if I did not follow their examples. Change is inevidable. Self-medicating is an option. Self-destruction is an option. Success and courage are possible. There is a difference between "longing" and "grieving" and the difference is phantom pain versus healing.

Thank God I had some of the most powerful real-life flesh and blood walk the talk examples of how to succeed after loss and paralysis. Because of those examples, those people, that prayer . . . I have a vision today for my life that incorporates great loss and great love. It is beautiful.

Paul never wanted his death to destroy anyone - he wanted his memory to make people laugh, live better and pray deeper. He wanted his death, if it had to happen, to wake people up to the love of God. And it did.

To Paul, to Art, to Clay, to Chad, to Ken, to Briana . . . your loss and courage and creativing after that loss has given me wings. God bless you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's All Noise. Pititful Noise.

The last few days I've had a hymn rolling over and over in my mind. The tune I remember completely, but only a few key words stand out. These words keep bubbling to the surface in every white cap in my world today.

"Master the tempests are raging . . . Peace be still."
(click here for music and lyrics)

Having just weathered a windstorm at Lake Powell with the kids, and losing two of our three tents, a floatie and our 8 ft. picnic canopy (all sheered to pieces and broken) - I have thought a lot about the forces of destruction that often threaten our plans and happiness in other areas. How we weather small challenges gives us clarity about how we handle big tough challenges.

Hunkered down on a queen-sized air mattress that stormy night with my youngest daughter, huddled in 2 man tent, a great conversation was had. Terrified by the raging wind beating against the vinyl dome (now at a 65 degree angle due to the force of the gust), my little Hannah shook and cringed.

"Honey, I know it sounds loud. I know it sounds scary. But what you hear is the wind on the layers of vinyl. It's just noise. We're safe, but the noise is scary."

Calming a bit we both layed back and drifted off to sleep - becoming familiar with the shaking and flapping of the tent above us. (Scott had generously opted to sleep in Hannah's now vacant tent so mom could console her)

In the morning the wind was silent. The lake was a mirror. There were no clouds, no breeze and no fear.

Grabbing my fishing pole and tip-toeing to the water's edge, I cast my line and waited for a bite.

"Peace. Be still." After all the noise, and all the fear, all the scurry gathering up our belongings last night . . . everything was beautiful and still.

How often do we allow the noise of financial pressure, marital pride and control battles, co-worker bickering, stressful family drama, and other people's opinions, to brew storms in our hearts and minds? And how often do we allow fear to ruin our experiences in life and rob us of our joy? How often do we sit in our little tents, distracted and terrified by the noise?

God is bigger than the scary noise in your life friend. God is bigger than your storm, bigger than people's opinions and bigger than the damage done by any wind. Storms pass, noise is just noise, but right is always right and will always bring peace.

If you are in the middle of a storm that you fear will consume you . . . pray.
If you are overwhelmed by dark clouds . . . pray.
If you fear you will not make it until morning . . . pray.

Awaken the Master with your pleas . . . "Master the tempests are raging . . . "

And then let the Master stretch out His mighty hand and calm the noise.

You see, the victory is already won. With sin and death overcome by Jesus's sacrifice, everything bad from here on out is just noise. Pitiful noise.

Yesterday this truth hit home when I read Galations 6:14-17
"Because of that cross, my interest in this world died long ago, and the world's interest in me is also long dead. It doesn't make any difference . . . from now on, don't let anyone trouble me with these things . . . I belong to Jesus."
(section summarized)

I do belong to Jesus. God said it, I believe it, storm over. My soul is stilled.

"Master the tempest is raging . . . Peace . . . sweet peace . . . be still."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Cross on the Side of the Road

Cars flash past a gaudy bright yellow floral cross on the side of the freeway. Off the blacktop ten feet up on the embankment, it stands stoically . . . no words, no name, just stands. The drivers of the vehicles that pass by hardly notice it, and certainly are not moved to deep emotion as they listen to talk radio, manage their young toddlers, and chat on their i-phones.

At some tearfilled reunion a broken person brought that cross, to that sacred spot, to that hill, that patch of rocks, that mile marker . . . because something tragic happened there. The cross that hardly gets noticed is evidence of a profound loss . . . a wound that is still open and healing.

That cross proves a journey was taken . . . a pilgramage was travelled . . . back to that spot, back to that tragedy, that memory . . . to help process the loss that happened there.

The cross that is left is not for the deceased - for in reality the grieving know the deceased are in a better place, far above the busy freeway. The cross is not left for the distracted road-raged passerby who faintly notices the fading flowers. The cross is left for the grieving. It marks a meridian of time. It marks a private suffering. It marks a relationship.

More importantly it marks a journey and a process. With the placing of the cross at the scene of a tragedy, the grieving discover pieces of themselves that were lost at the scene. Those pieces of the puzzle, those pieces of themselves, are healing as they take their places and bring wholeness.

So today as you pass that gaudy yellow floral cross on the side of the freeway, pray for the grieving. Pray that they find all of the pieces of themselves that were shattered at that tragedy. Pray that they find healing to get back on the road, that they can again listen to talk radio, manage their young toddlers, and chat on their i-phones. That life can again be about amazing destinations, purpose and career and a life's work; that life can again hold joy and music and laughter.

Today when you see that cross on the side of the road, pray. Somewhere on that busy road there is a walking wounded picking up the pieces. And one day, if that walking wounded is you, I'll go with you to that side of the road and help you place a cross. I know the way. I know the grieving, the horror, the tragedy. I also know that life holds more than loss. It holds courage, renewal, the joy and beauty of touch and compassion. I know as you pick up the pieces God is there - He's always been there - and He will show you how the pieces fit, one-by-sacred-one.

You see God knows all about crosses.

He died for you on one.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bring It.

"No. And I mean HELL no."
My friend Clay egg'd me on. "Hey, if I can jump out of a plane - YOU can!" My face could not mask my surprise when Clay explained that he, Scott and I's quadreplegic rock-crawling celebrity friend, jumped tandem out of an airplane.

I shook my head emphatically. "There is NO way I would ever do that - not in a million years. I'm afraid of heights! I'm just too scared."

That conversation took place some months ago. It haunted me.

How do I coach people in my speaking presentations or in my one-on-one sessions, to face their fears if I can't. How do I tell people to transform their pain, their terror, their loss, into a monument if I have do-able issues blocking me?

Do I believe that fears can be overcome? And what is my fear of heights, fear of dying, lack of trust costing me personally in some big areas of my life? What would happen if I faced those fears?

As Clay and I's conversation - and more specifically - as my response to his jumping worked on me - "Not in a million years. I'm just too scared." I decided I had to do it. I do not let - or won't let - fear drive my life. I absolutely believe that passion must be in the driver's seat to create an amazing exciting monumental life.

So I jumped.

Yeh. I jumped.

And now after jumping my whole life is different.

Everything I thought I knew about my own fear was wrong. Everything I thought I knew about myself has changed. Because that was THE biggest fear I've had in my whole life - at the top of my fear list - and it's now checked off . . . not only checked off . . . but with inked hearts and exclamation points surrounding it . . . every fear in decending order below it now looks puny and threatened. My biggest fear - which at one time had inspired visions of death, panic, anxiety and terror - now inspires squealing, adrenaline and laughter.

In my own mind, I had made skydiving THE biggest "I can't" in my life - and now I did.

I'm now questioning every fear that blocks me because of the 360 view of the planet from 13,000 feet with nothing but sick air and a huge grin.

Am I afraid of a little challenge? No. Hell no.

A coy smirk erupts across face and my mind scrambles back to the doorway of a tiny plane, rocking - "ready, set, go!"

Bring it.

I want to see how puny my little fear is . . . and how big my life could be . . .

I'm holding nothing back now. Bring it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Livin' The Dream

My birthday is just a couple of days away. Reflective thoughts are surfacing and memories of my life flood in. How could I sum up the years of laughter, struggle, self-discovery, challenge, loss and successes? Had I known the pain and the ride before it all happened, would I chose it again?

Yes. Yes I would.

My life has never been predictable. I could not have sat down and written the road map through all of its twists and turns. Especially the twists and turns of the last two years that led me to Scott and the seven precious souls that we prayerfully blend and guide.

The birthday candles spell out "T" and "44" on the two cakes. I choke on the tears as the trick candles re-light.

I'm livin' the dream baby. Not livin the fear, with my heart closed afraid of pain and loss. Not livin' the stress, continually focused on holding back and holding in. Not livin' the regret of opportunities missed. Livin' the dream of parenting and watching each child stretch and grow and learn - even those hard lessons. I'm livin the dream of friends and ventures that keep me awake to service, kindness and vision.

Today I fly. I'm livin the dream baby ~

Monday, June 21, 2010

Young Lions Sometimes Go Hungry

"Eat your peas."
" . . . but I don't like peas."
"Eat your peas."
" . . . they taste yucky!"
"Eat your peas."
" . . . (crying) but I don't wanna eat my peas! I hate peas!"
Mom slowly but confidently takes the plate to the sink, washing the peas down the drain. No more peas.
An hour passes. My child is hungry. "I'm hungry mommy. I'm hungry now."
"I'm sorry honey. We were eating a terrific dinner and you were being very rude about the peas because you wanted something else. We're done with dinner now. I'm sorry you're hungry. We'll eat again tomorrow."
My child now understands. She looks down at her shoes and thinks about spaghetti noodles as her shoe laces flip back and forth.

Fast forward.
"You need to be home on time."
"But I don't want to come home that early."
"You need to be home at curfew."
"But I don't want to."
"You need to follow our rules."
"But I don't like your rules."
Mom slowly but confidently takes the car keys, the house keys, the priveleges and figuratively washes those away . . . hoping the young lion becomes hungry again. Soon. Hungry for rightness, hungry for relationship, hungry for goodness.

As a parent there is nothing harder than drawing the line in the sand and enforcing boundaries. As a child there is nothing harder than understanding why a parent must draw than line. What a child cannot see, and will never see, until they have young lions of their own, is that the lines are drawn to keep a child protected. Usually from themselves. Parents struggle with doing it - it hurts them to discipline the child even when a consequence MUST follow poor choices.

Psalm 34:10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Sometimes young lions do go hungry. And in that hunger they think. And in that thinking hopefully they discover initiative. And drive. And hopefully in that drive they discover they are responsible for what their path, their bounty, their pursuit. Hopefully that hunger gives them the raw courage to venture out, take necessary risks to learn life, to increase their stature. And hopefully in that hunger they seek God and trust His provision.

I'm watching a young lion go hungry tonight. It would be so easy to feed, cottle and rescue . . . but I can't.

God what is my job? Pray for the hunger to grow into a yearning. Pray for the yearning to grow into a strength. Pray for that strength to grow into a powerful force for good. Pray for the young lion to grow into a beautiful warm confident lionness.

And one who loves peas. : )

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fool's Gold

Our family just returned from a beautiful trip to California. We were able to see Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, the beach in Carmel, Yosemite and the Redwoods, in addition to Mona Lake. Three of our teenage children were able to go with Scott and I for the week, staying with family and great hotels along the way.

On our first afternoon the kids and I, stretching our legs a bit, walked down to the river just a quarter mile down the road.

It was hot that day and the river bubbled and splashed on the rocks seeming almost excited we were there. The three kids, who had hemmed and haw'd after the long drive, perked up as they took in the river bottom scenery. Captivated by sound of the rushing water and mesmerized by the sandy water's edge that sparkled, within minutes they were discovering brilliant rocks and tide pools, completely oblivious now to me or the hundreds of miles we had just driven.

Squealing with delight upon finding a fat gray bullfrog tadpole, my youngest daughter (usually the germaphobe of the family) dipped her hand into the small tide pool to see if she could catch it with her bare hands. My oldest daughter rolled up her long shirt and began wading into the water, feet gingerly finding footing on the slippery lava rock. My son, the 6 foot tall wann-be body-builder, ripped off his shirt completely revealing the Utah white skin - as if to soak up every energizing California ray of sunshine.

At the edges of the water, where the sand collected from the busy river, were sparkling pieces of fool's gold. Here is where miners had struck it rich in the new land of California - panning for gold in the mountain streams. The kids began collecting the shiny tidbits, with a child-like fascination. Scanning the river bottom, it was as if God himself had thrown gold like diamonds by the handful, just for us. It seemed magical; the dancing river, the gold diamonds everywhere, and the sun warming our shoulders and cheeks just perfectly.

I watched my children take in the magic and nature with such an excitement - so different than watching tv at home. They were so free and curious in this non-technical, but high-def organic setting.

It struck me how these three children were all so unique. Their sizes, their shapes, their mannerisms. Though I had given birth to all three, every one of them had their own purpose, there own personality, and their own interests. Watching them interact, then get caught up in watching something or touching something on their own, and then calling to each other to show or do something together . . . it hit me that one day soon they would all spread their wings in search of their God-given path. Our days together like this, at the river, vacationing and seeing the world together . . . those days were changing.

With that thought pressing on my mind, I grabbed my bag searching for my camera. "I've got to capture this moment before it's gone!" Looking, looking . . . no camera. Grabbing my phone I try to take a photo. Low battery. Not enough to take a picture. Ugh.

I just sat there. Stunned. No camera. No dang camera. That means no pictures of these priceless moments! None!

My heart sank. And in the next breath it was as if I heard God Himself say, "This is the real gold Tiffany. Moments that you don't see coming, moments you don't plan, moments that you never get back."

I just sat there. And the river like my gratitude swept uncaptured over my heart, over my soul, over my life . . . and I basked in the sweetness of my children . . . so grateful for the privilege of holding them as babies, rocking them in my arms, and being so blessed to watch them grow taller, wiser, into the people God made them to be.

And the shore sparkled with magic. Only a fool would miss this moment.

God, thank you for the moments that are so full, so real, so brilliant. Thank you for being so big that your love for me shines everywhere - and it shines most when I am still and allow myself to see YOU.

Truly. Thank you for the real gold, the real magic, the real brilliance - I sit quietly and see the hand of God. Amazed.

The next day we went back to the river - with a camera in hand this time - and played again for hours in the magical sparkling river - laughing and enjoying each other as the trees swayed and water raced by. My cup of life full to bubbling over . . . I see the gold God. I see it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Gift of Limits

I have for a long time preached the intellectual sermon about "limitless living" and "transforming your obstacles". In that rah-rah hype and momentum I have also promoted the belief that we only limit ourselves, by our beliefs, our pasts, our expectations and our fears. In a way, waging a battle against perceived limitations as if they were the enemy of success to be beaten down and conquered.

This morning while reading the book "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality", the author Peter Scazzero explains that limits are to be grieved, then embraced. While our limits frustrate us, they also train us in humility. Humility then, as a character asset, is the very thing that keeps us in touch with reality - the very word "humility" in Latin meaning grounded.

"Is it true God that You place certain limits in my life to help me stay grounded?", my mind pleaded as I closed the pages of the book in desperation. "God, do you limit me on purpose to train my soul? These things that I am fighting against, have you put them there on purpose?" Before I could finish my pleadings I could almost hear a strong but gentle voice saying, "Yes child. Your limits keep you REAL."

Oh my gosh. It hit me. Like the story of the Velveteen Rabbit with its eyes loved off, my limits are THE gift that God gives me - not to be a failure, not to be broken, not to be forever grieving, not to be frustrated, but to be REAL.

In a world of plastic commercials, disposible people and supersales, that up-sell sex, up-sell Hollywood, up-sell money and fame, that up-sells gotta-have-it-right-this-second . . . God wants me to BE real and STAY real. My God-given limitations are as valueable in the process as are my God-given gifts.

God opens up the visual of swimming. "Child, water is a constant. It has qualities that are consistant every time you get in it. Understanding its qualities and constants allows you to learn and employ the principles of swimming. There is frustration sometimes in learning to swim, but enjoyment once the principles of that constant are understood. Your limitations with water combined with its constants allows you the experience of success within limits."

My mind reeled in that clarity. My limitations and struggles with my children? Same. My limitations and struggles with health? Same. My limitations and struggles with money? Same. My limitations from family patterns and ineffective thinking? Same.

God wants me to embrace my limitations - and grow with them in the constants that they teach me - while not being defined by them.

"Thank you God for giving me limitations. I will not be angry for them anymore. I will not see them as my enemy. Thank you for the constants that they each create - and the character training that they require of me." I whisper as I prepare for my day, seeing my tasks so differently than before.

And as the water runs over me, I am right like rain.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Devil - Up Close and Personal

I've been tempted in my life. Haven't you? Tempted to do the wrong thing, tempted to lash out, tempted to think terrible, mean-spirited thoughts. Oh, I have been.

And, I've been convinced by my pride that I'm right, determined to war or seek revenge, seek my own reward, and I've at times even been tempted to play the martyr and soak in self-pity like a bubble bath til I was shriveled up like a raisin.

I never see it in the exact moment for what it is. It always fools me.

Why is that?

I think I've learned something. A major "aha" in my life as of just days ago.

When the devil is in your face, you will NOT see if for what it is. You CAN'T. Because he'll never look like the devil up close and personal. Like a ghost or a vapor, you will sense him there lurking in your problems, your drama, your anger, but you won't be able to really see how big or ugly he is until the light comes - hours, days or sometimes even years later.

In the light of truth, the light of wisdom, the light of hindsight, or the light of conviction, the devil can be clearly seen. Stepping back a few paces from the situation, the drama, the problem, the challenge, you can see him clearly - seeking to tear you down, confuse the issue, breed fear, create division and destroy your self-esteem and life mission.

So, the key when you find yourself questioning your actions, your motives, your wisdom, your faith, and it doesn't feel good to your soul . . . put some distance between you and the devil - take some alone time with God and see your life as heaven sees it . . . and what you'll find is the Devil's been in your face . . .

Enter Jesus. Arms open wide enough to put some distance between you and that deceptive joker. Arms open wide enough to help you see your possibilities and limitless value. Sacred space.

For with Jesus it is personal as well. Bring any problem, challenge, bitterness or loss to Him and He'll shine a light. So bright that the devil disappears like a vapor. And what is left is truth, strength, grace and love . . . hold that close . . . for with those you can never be deceived. And it will feel good to your soul. So good.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Getting What You Deserve

Today our home makeover family returns. A week ago their charred timbers stood silent as the roaring equipment took swipes to level it to the ground. Now a house three times the size stands in its place - beautiful, clean and safe. People walk through each decorated room with jaws open, oohing and ahhing.

And then the question always comes in some form or another . . . "Do they deserve all this?"

The answer is "no".

This family has done nothing to earn the hundreds of volunteer hours or thousands and thousands of dollars in donations to plan, frame, build, floor and decorate this new home. They have done no acts of heroism, no great achievement, no historical discovery . . . they are just sweet simple people.

And they did nothing to merit their 9 year old daughter Samantha dying of H1N1 last fall. They did nothing to deserve a fire two months late that destroyed their safety, their memories, and their stability. They didn't deserve any of that.

That's where grace steps in. Grace is the healer that wraps it's arms around those in undeserved pain - and even "deserved" pain - and whispers the words "Be whole". Grace is the kindness, the unexpected support, the cheering on your side when all is lost. Grace is the movement to restoration, the smile of understanding, the compassionate listening. Grace is what makes the difference for all things deserved and undeserved.

God at the end of my life may I come to a great mansion with you. A home I do not deserve, but a place of hope and rest forever.

May I have grace to cover me, both my undeserved pain and my deserved - thank you God for being so big, so kind, so loving, that you have grace big enough to cover it all. Even when I do not deserve . . .

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Clash of Pride

We went to see "Clash of the Titans" yesterday. I really wasn't interested in seeing it. Truly, I dragged my feet and almost made us late. The movie just looked like a blast of swords, guts, sweat and demons. Not my favorite flavor of entertainment.

As I slouched in my deep theatre chair, completely devouring the buttery popcorn in my boredom, I was suddenly interested. Hmm. I sat up taller. Greek mythology. I remember . . . hmm. This could be interesting. So I gave it my attention. And then I was sucked in. Totally.

I won't ruin it for you, I'll just say go see it. It moved me to think deeper.

There is a theme throughout that struck me. Zeus continues to try and help his demi-god son Perseus conquer evil. Zeus sends gifts, a special sword, a Pegasus (horse with wings), a gold coin . . . and the young man refuses the gifts. Out of pride he wants to conquer the world himself. He does not want help.

In the end, our young hero surrenders and recognizes his dependence . . . as we all do.

And I realize that God is even more great than Zeus, even more kind and merciful, more pure in devotion for us His children, and more committed to our sucess than any great power in Olympus.

Everything God does is out of love. What gifts has He given you that you are not fully embracing along this road to conquering evil? And in your pride are you ready to accept His gifts so you can be victorious?

Isaiah 41:10 "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."

So, go see "Clash" and think about God. You are His child. Embrace the love He extends to you and see how victorious you can be.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted

I love to watch American Idol and see the contestants grow in their skill and presentation. As a non-singer I truly appreciate their courage and tenacity under the scrutiny of tough critics.

The other night one of the final few sang "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted" - and the words continue to swirl around in my head, stirring up memories and thoughts like leaves caught up in a wind devil.

"As I walk this land of broken dreams, I have visions of many things. But happiness is just an illusion, filled with sadness and confusion . . . I walk in shadows searching for light, cold and alone no comfort in sight."

Each one of us could sing that ballad. What becomes of the broken hearted? We've all had dreams that have crumbled, fallen apart, unravelled, or been swept away by the tides of change. With the loss of dreams, hopes are dashed and with the barren twigs of winter we can become cynical and angry, doubting that spring will ever come.

What becomes of the broken hearted?

Many of my clients are motivational speakers. They have ALL experiences a tragic loss, major accident, many times paralysis or horrific unthinkable challenges. And coming out the other side, now share their insights with others.

Then there are those I meet however, who, when dreams are lost and hearts are broken, follow the path of least resistance and become hostile, vengeful, angry and bitter. The difference between the two is all in how they answer that American Idol question - "what becomes of the broken hearted?".

My friend, how do you answer that question? Your answer, whether you realize it or not, is written boldly across your life.

The Bible gives us comfort here. God knew our greatest losses would take us to a barren place. God promises to meet us there and save us in our pain. Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the broken hearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit."

We can be rescued and upheld when all seems lost. Even in the coldest winters God has spring planned for us.

As I look out the window of my beautiful new home I see evidence on the trees that new growth is budding. Spring is coming. The snow is melting, the sun is bright, and love and hope and joy steadily encourage me to trust again. Thank you God ~

What becomes of the broken hearted?

Your answer is written all over your life. Your answer to that question will drive every action in your life.

I choose to believe in spring. Hum to yourself today that tune. And ask yourself . . . what becomes of the bro - ken hearted? . . . da da da . . .

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brave Friends vs. Stupid Friends

When I was younger I had friends who did stupid things. Sadly, like a puppy dog I would follow them and do the same stupid things. Things that destroyed our health, things that impacted our schooling, and things . . . that while fun in the moment . . . proved to be devastating in the end. Call it peer pressure or just stupid by osmosis, I lowered my life to the level of behavior accepted by the group. Even when I knew better.

As I've grown older I'm attracted to a different kind of friend. I'm drawn to friends that have outrageous dreams, big goals and keen ambition. Now, these friends too have fun in the moment, but they gauge that fun by the joy it brings them and the way it impacts the world. They do crazy things, inspiring things, like race 4X4's though they are wheelchair bound, go skydiving, produce a movie trailer of their own show, bust drug deals and save babies, open and design their own clothing lines, open for Macy Gray, get on QVC and win international cookbook awards. These friends are nuts - and yet, these crazy friends raise the level of my life - and raise the bar on the dreams I set for myself.

Whereas before I was attracted to stupid friends - friends who really weren't stupid, but who naively misused their time, their abilities, and their passion - THESE friends, these BRAVE friends encourage me to use mine.

So, I'm making a dream board of the goals I want to accomplish in my life. Sweet husband? Check. New house? Check. Yellow XTERRA? Check. Trip to Caribbean? Check. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Now on to publish my first children's book, raise funds for another family stricken with cancer, jump out of an airplane. Take singing lessons. See the Eiffel Tower - again. Stupid goals? Nope. My friends say I'm as crazy as they are.

How blessed my life will be if I am!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In The Ring

I'm not one to usually pick a fight. My personality is fun seeking, spontaneous, and a people pleaser. I hate to admit this, but for the last little while I've had trouble managing my hostility, my frustration, and my tolerance for life's inconsistencies and hurts.

Unintentionally I've been argumentative, cynical and destructive, when I could have been loving and understanding. I have lacked compassion, peace and wisdom. I think its all caught up with me.

When bad things happen in life, no matter how much faith we have, no matter how much we love God and want to do the right things, and no matter how much we WANT to handle things well, the bad things that happen to us hurt - sometimes to the core. When tragedy strikes we often lose our dreams, our confidence and our sense of direction. We lose relationships or money, sometimes both, and more often than not we lose our passion.

Just like a child fighting to put on a shoe - we sit there screaming at the frustration because things are not working. We want to hit something and start punching and swinging in the air as if sheer hostility will produce results. We're mad because we're hurt and we can't control it. Sadly, we end up, I've ended up, lashing out at the sweet people in my life who really matter.

I was told that part of the grieving process is anger - anger at the loss and anger because it feels unfair. I did not necessarily feel that before now. Thought I was able to skip that somehow with the wonderful blessings that came into my life - love, a new marriage, improved health, financial stability. But in the grieving cycle, whether in the moment or years down the road, every part of the cycle will come up emotionally until a person is well and whole. An experience two days ago is helping me put things into perspective.

Tuesday I met a woman whose husband is dying. Introduced through a mutual friend, I had been asked to talk with her about what she is currently, and will be, going through. We sat and shared details - talking about finances, special physical needs her husband has, help she needs to continue running her household as he weakens . . . and I saw it. In her eyes was the devastation, the horror, the deer-in-the-headlights look . . . and the fight.

The anger we feel in our lives, placed rightly, gives us the fight we need to endure long periods of painful suffering, changes and losses. That energy of injustice helps us find solutions and have clarity and focus when everything is out of control. God gave us that fight.

Fighting the "good fight" then becomes the lesson.

Fighting the "good fight" infers that there is also the "bad fight". Which is what I've been fighting. The bad fight is the crazy punches into the air in the ring trying to hit something, anything, or anyone. It is the roadrage, the domestic violence, the "going Postal" - that never has a solution only a cost. The only solution to fighing the bad fight is surrendering your weapons and resentment to God and praying for peace.

God show me how to fight the "good fight" and how to heal my anger about the losses and changes in my life. Help me remember that You are in the changes with me carrying me to higher ground. You make a wide path for my feet to keep me from slipping - help me not be angry about the journey with You. Help me be a tool for building people not a wrecking ball. Jesus was a carpenter - a hammer weilded rightly constructs and connects things, it does not crush them. Help me bring people together not create division. Help me surrender my anger if it does not fuel right thinking.

Help me see the beauty of this new path, the new hopes, the new joys and honor the miracles you've done for me. You are good and have caused the desert to bloom and the rivers to flow again in my life after the drought. Help me not focus on the drought but the renewal that has come.

Truly God, you have already won the fight. Let my heart be good with that.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Don't Skip A Beat

Watching the Olympics, enjoying the mango salsa and tortilla chips under my warm blanket, I was taken aback by couple's ice skating. Couple after couple would make mistakes, fall, slip, miss a spin . . . and scramble to their feet again to their next jump. Instantly dazed and certainly devastated, they would just as quickly be required to summon new focus and momentum to perform the next spin with speed and accuracy.

When the skaters would err, I in my comfy circumstances would cringe for them - even hurt emotionally for them - to think of the hours, days, months and often years that they had been preparing for this moment. Putting myself in their skates so to speak, I could feel the forces of disappointment, embarrassment, sadness, frustration and disappointment at each failing. In my mind it would be easy to choose to quit, to walk off the ice in humiliation - especially if you knew you had lost.

However, watching them continue through each movement to the end of their planned program, IN SPITE of the falling, the missteps, the lowered score . . . it reminded me that when we fail, we fail most when we quit.

When we hang out in our losses, hang out with our failures, we lose time, energy, momentum and self-confidence. Failing is part of being human. It is what makes success and victory so sweet and so magical when it happens. Success is riddled with failings. How we respond when we fail makes all the difference.

This program of life is short - our chance on the ice is limited. The music will end. The plan that we have for our lives, and most definately the plan God has for our lives is in motion right now. Don't skip a beat. Don't give up and leave the ice dejected just because you fall. Gather your strength, remember your goal and find your place again. The music is playing beautifully and the crowd is still cheering you on. There is a plan. Hold your head up and keep skating. Don't even skip a beat.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

TBD - To Be Determined


Written and understood as "to be determined" - often referring to a date or a location of some future event. The main theme of this future event is "mostly" formulated but the specifics, hard facts, details, are still being cemented.

I've rolled these three letters over and over in my mind this week upon hearing one of my dearest friends is now in jail having made some devastating choices. My heart weeps for the family involved. The snowball effect of deception and dishonesty has hit bottom and the piper must be paid.


It would seem that most of the story is formulated. Hard facts, details and specifics would seem cemented . . . and sadly some of them are. Irreparable damage has been caused. But the end of the story is . . .


By our choices we pen the chapters. We choose our destiny ultimately. We determine - we, us, you and me, "I" determine - I determine how the story ends. And so does my dear friend.

I grieve his choices and can't get his loss out of my mind. He has chosen many sad sad details. But the pen is still in motion. The event, the final event, as I read this morning in Romans 14 - "Each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God . . . yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God." That final event is TBD.

Not the time, not the place, not the consequences . . . we only choose how we will be when we get there. Our choices are still being made. It's never too late to chose better.

Friend of mine, within those cement walls, wondering your fate, your destiny even after such tragic loss and shame . . . your ultimate event and redemptive moment is TBD. What will you choose? Determine to do right. Determine to seek God. Determine to restore what you have lost for yourself and what you've lost for others. Determine to say you're sorry. Determine to live your life out in a way that changes your stars. Determine to be a light even in that dark place.

B Determined. You can be. I know you. You can.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Damn Lucky

There's been a lot of turbulence in my life over the last 2 and a half years. More than any other time in my forty plus years. A car accident, moves, selling furnishings, more moves, cancer treatments for my spouse and as a mother of five children, losing my spouse to cancer.

It messes with your mind. It messes with your thinking. Even on my best days there is a gray cloud that sits in my peripheral waiting for the wind to blow and have it cover the sun. I'm working on the emotional reprocussions of the past two years - and it may take quite a bit more time to process it all.

There are words that haunt me when that dark cloud comes - words like "tragic", "widow", "alone", "death", "loss", "broken", and "final". And in the midst of trying to move forward with my life in positive ways, I hear this negative chatter tormenting me and getting in my way.

Then I found the bracelet. The bracelet that says just one word. The right word.


I wear it all the time.

Every time I look at it I say the word to myself. In fact, I've gotten so excited about the changes that I feel in adopting the word that I now say to myself "Damn Lucky!"

I am lucky. I could've been handicapped or dead after that car accident. I am lucky - I always had a roof over my head even when I worried sick over finances during cancer treatments. I am lucky - I knew an incredible amazing man who forever changed my life for the better and I know he is with Jesus - safe and at peace and in no more pain. I am lucky - I have wonderfully resilient children, incredible friends and family and a purposeful career that makes me smile every single day.

I decide the words I live by. I decide the energy I will give them. And I will remind myself of the truth about the path I've walked and the future God has for me. A simple bracelet that echoes the truth right from God. My life could have been so different. But here I am.


Yes I am.

And friend so are you. Maybe you just need a bracelet to remind you : )

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On The Outside of the Lesson

Its hard to be on the outside of a lesson. Hard to watch the Master training the child - even though the lesson must be taught. Hard to know what to do as the learning, the pain, the growing is taking place.

What do you do when you cannot interfere with the lesson life must teach?

In the Bible is a story of a father who brings his son to Jesus. "Master, my son is ill. He is possessed. He throws himself into the fire continually as if he is crazy. Heal him."

After all the father could do he brought his son to Jesus. And the boy was healed.

All we can do when those around us struggle with their own internal demons, their lessons, their fires, their illnesses, is bring them to Jesus. Sometimes we can pray with them. Sometimes we can only pray beside them. Bringing those pleas and those concerns to the feet of the Master who knows each one of us individually . . . that is the place of true healing.

It is in that quiet place, that place of faith where miracles absolutely can happen, that we thank God for the lessons that are so skillfully taught through challenges. And we trust that while someone we love is suffering, emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally . . . we trust that the Master is teaching. And we trust that He knows best how to teach and how to heal.

"My child throws himself into the fire continually. Heal him."

It's hard to be on the outside of the lesson. But it gets easier when we trust He who is teaching.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

As I get older I notice a syndrome I call the "Should Woulda Coulda" syndrome. Young people rarely have it while most (the majority) of us older people do.

We look back and clearly (and somewhat self-loathingly) identify the big goofs in our lives. The losses. The missed opportunities. The hurt we've caused others. The disagreements. The education or career detours. The fish that got away. The overlooked moments to embrace or say "I love you". The ballgames missed. The vacations not taken.

In the moment we didn't see something that years later is obvious. And we wish we could go back and make more of that moment than we did.

Sadly those "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" moments were what they were. The past is the past. Hopefully however, those moments inspire change in the present.

The antidote for the syndrome are 3 words.
Say them with me. "I CAN NOW."


If you've missed an opportunity for education . . . I CAN NOW.
If you've hurt someone and need to apologize . . . I CAN NOW.
If you're holding on to a sin and need to change course . . . I CAN NOW.
If you love someone and have held back telling them . . . I CAN NOW.
If you wish you'd saved money, been more frugal, made a wiser decision . . . I CAN NOW.
And if you've been living with unhealthy patterns - physically, spiritually, emotionally . . . and want a different outcome . . . I CAN NOW.
If you are ready to be a new creature as the Bible says . . . I CAN NOW.

It is never too late to be who God wants you to be. Let God heal you today.

Whisper with me . . . "God, with your help, with your sovereignty, with your wisdom, with your forgiveness, with you by my side . . . no matter the past . . . I trust you. I can now."