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.