Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Found a New Beginning


The year is rapidly coming to a close and so many of us will start Tuesday morning with a new beginning. 

Personally, I think I’ve experienced several new beginnings this year. I’ve asked for forgiveness and received radical grace for which I am undeniably grateful. I believe in a God that loves me and created situations and scenarios in which the lesson is lasting or relearned, again and again.

The new beginning started on a night as simple as this one about five months ago. I was writing a blog post on July 31, 2012 about friendships in a constantly changing world. In fact, I think that’s the title of the blog post. In it, you can tell there was a struggle to identify a constant in my life besides God.

I wrote, “Driving to work, while doing laundry, or even staring down the road of nothing on a treadmill, I’ll think of people and wonder if any of the people in my life are perchance the one person who makes all the torn seams come together.”

No one has to tell me twice that if you count on people for that, you’re destined for disappointment. We’re all imperfect and none of us can really be that one person. However, I do believe that Jesus shows up in disguise when we least expect it.

Also, in the weeks and months that followed, I saw just how unique and precise some friendships are and therefore, so are the people in our lives. 

A few days later, while evidently deeply internalizing that statement I found myself compelled to sit and write letters to people. When I got to the last one, a song by the Christian band The Sidewalk Prophets came on the radio. It’s called, “The Words I Would Say.” As I was writing, I unexpectedly wept. 


It had dawned on me, quite blatantly, that God had put people in my life for very specific reasons and I had been completely ignorant to it, and them. In a split second, a flush of moments came rushing back into my mind. I blinked, and shook my head, and couldn’t believe the intense cathartic response. 

God gave me a second chance, an intense nudging, to recognize who walked in when everyone else walked out, who encouraged strengths when I only heard others highlighting faults, and who was just so subtly always there. I had to humbly surrender to the unshakeable need to put pen to paper. All I wanted to do was say, “Thank you.”

What happened next took me by surprise, and resulted in a continued great sense of clarity and conviction of that still, small voice that guides me even to this moment. 

As 2012 comes to a close, the reverberations of that one night are still felt and heard. It is a resounding defining moment of the year for me and served as a turning point.

I humbly surrendered, again, knowing full well there is nothing in life I can do completely on my own, I need Him. I give all glory to God. 

I found a new beginning. I believe in second (third, fourth, fifth...) chances.

I found an inexpressible joy. 

So, to 2013, I say, “Bring it.” 


2 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
“And the God of all grace, who called you to 
his eternal glory in Christ, after you have 
suffered a little while, will himself restore you
and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and
courageous. Do not be terrified; do not
be discouraged, for the Lord your God will
be with you wherever you go.”

I Kings 19:12 (NIV)
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the
Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire
came a gentle whisper.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Other Side of "Why?"


Why?

If you’re a parent or have been around children this is a question that comes up often. 

“Mommy has to go to work.” 
“Why?" 
“Mommy has a job so she can make money to take care of you.” 
“Why?” 
“Because she loves you and wants to make sure you have the life she wants you to have.” 
“Why?”

You get the picture. 

Then, at any point of our lives, there are incidents of great horror, wonder, or utter amazement that can shatter our being. We can find ourselves at a total loss and practically crying out, “Why?”

On Friday, December 14, 2012 the unthinkable happened at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Someone murdered 20 children and 7 adults. It was horrific, and it still is. 

Humanly, there is just no way to answer some questions. 

There is darkness shrouding the light of this world, and there is often no answer we can spin to justify the actions that come out of this darkness. 

In the middle of inexplicable heartache, answering this question may not result in any comfort at all. In fact, it may just lead us to more despair. 

The Pastor at my Church said it quite well, all anyone will ever remember is if you were there for them and showed sincere love.

We can’t be physically or geographically there for all people hurting, suffering, grieving or asking “Why?” We can pray, and when we’re not praying, we can be shattered into remembering what really matters and that is the people we have in our own life.

Then, perhaps, we can stop and take the time to show them sincere love. 

And then, just maybe, we might find ourselves on the other side of “Why?”

Romans 15:13 (NIV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace as you trust in him, so that
you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We Have to Do the Work, Too, but Don't Worry


When I was younger, I wanted so badly to do well on an exam that I put my notes under my pillow. My belief was that if I held the notes close to me, the information would just seep into my brain, while I was sleeping.

Of course, I knew that wasn’t possible and I’m embarrassed to admit that I was old enough to know that it wasn’t. 

Believing that it would work was one thing, but in order to actually do well I needed to the work. I should have also studied a little bit more than I did, and then believed I would do well.

Sometimes, when there are things we hope for, need, or want, we’re also called into action to assist in the “making it happen” process.

I could pray until I am blue in the face for additional finances to help me make ends meet, when God knows I probably can limit some of my expenses and make my income last more.

I might also think about going a vacation, but unless I actually budget it out, make connections with the people involved, and ask for the time off, I’m not going to magically end up on a plane to this destination! 

Everything does happen for a reason, and I believe they are more than coincidences.

I have found a direct connection between that which we hope for and what actually happens. Most often, there are two connecting dots. 

The first is in praying, hoping, or believing in “it”. The second, is in actually doing something about it. 

I’ve also learned, that sometimes the answer is simply, “No.” 

Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)
“‘For I know I have the plans I have for you,’ 
declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Surrendering to What We Don't Understand


A colleague of mine almost missed a deadline which would have impacted my work and its execution.

Stressed, but they didn’t and everything was actually fine.

The flight I was on experienced turbulence while climbing into the atmosphere at a level I hadn’t experienced in years. I gasped. My heart leapt from my chest and into my throat as I looked at the people sitting near me and we all said, “Are you OK?” 

Shaken, but I was alive and the turbulence was gone, and soon we were laughing. 

After waiting more than an hour for a rental car, I hit the road, and a car I passed it was going the other direction on the freeway caught on fire.

Stirred, but it wasn’t my car and it was going the other direction. The person in that car was also alright, albeit without a car, but alive.


My cell phone was at 15% battery as I drove and I received text messages I couldn’t reply to and worried, for a moment, about not being able to answer.

Sad, but settled knowing that everything was fine and the delay of answering wouldn’t have a longterm negative impact. 

I wandered through a grocery store for 45 minutes carrying enough for a shopping cart in my arms until I asked an employee to get me a basket. When he brought it to me, I dumped everything in and then asked where the travel size toiletries were. I proceeded to then walk through the entire grocery store again putting everything else away.

Setback and delayed, but I was still awake and got what I came for. 

Then, I walked into a hotel room where I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a few months and I proceeded to talk at him for about fifteen minutes before asking where I could charge my cell phone. Instead of waiting for an answer, I bursted, “It’s OK, I’ll use the kitchen.” Long pause. It’s a hotel room, remember? There is no kitchen.

Scatterbrained, but mostly tired and in the company of someone who had already seen me at my worst (and this was not it).

The next day, I backed my rental car into a lamp sitting on a 15 inch tall brick wall, nearly tearing the bumper off, and then I slammed my arm in a door, and narrowly escaped getting caught in a DUI checkpoint (good thing I hadn’t been drinking)!

Surrendered

Everywhere I looked this weekend you would think all I saw was the negative. 

But that’s simply not true. I actually only saw the silver lining, and the in-between of all of those moments were moments that I will carry with me at least through the entire next year. The above and the in-between moments were all opportunities to hope, to be thankful, to pray, to teach, to accept responsibility, to move on, and to praise God for an answered prayer. 

I borrowed the sentiments of my last post and shared them with someone new. I said, “This is my philosophy: Expect something wonderful (don’t worry about what it is or who it involves and it will happen!”

Two minutes later, I walked into a room and met someone who I could talk to and felt connected with unlike I have with most people in my life. I may have left on a journey stressed, but I came back completely surrendered.


Acts 1:7-8 (NIV) 
“He said to them: ‘It’s not for you to know the times
or dates the Father has set by His own authority.
But you will receive power when the
Holy Spirit comes on you.’”

2 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV)
“To keep me from becoming conceited because
of these surpassingly great revelations,
there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger
of Satan, to torment me.”

John 13:7 (NIV)
Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I
am doing, but later you’ll understand.’”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Expect Something Wonderful


“I want you to do this tomorrow morning, I want you to expect something wonderful. It may not be obvious and it may not even happen to you. But, if you expect it, it will happen.” 

The words came out of my mouth in a conversation with a colleague over a week ago. Admittedly, it’s a little boastful and assuming. I believed what I was saying because I needed to hear it myself. 

Two dozen of my colleagues spent more than $60 or so dollars on the Powerball jackpot today. We don’t even have the Powerball in the state of Nevada. Yet the hope and fun in the possibility was enough for us to try. Not winning, even when the odds were enormously not in our favor, is disappointing. By just pooling our money together the tiniest expectation out of this seemingly simple cause-and-effect situation emerged. We, however, didn’t emerge as winners. 

Just over a month ago, I was on vacation and preparing to return with a joyful and broken heart to leave loved ones geographically behind. Since then, as grace would have it, nothing relevant came to mind. 

This site sat here blank without any new words. 

To be perfectly honest, I was feeling disappointed about a multitude of things and frustrated for feeling that way to begin with. Lest I forget, I am human and it is in the very nature of being human (with feelings!) that we experience disappointment. It can be with finances, work, or relationships. Even when we say we don’t have expectations, they sneak up on us.

As a Christian, freedom really comes in the belief of God and the ultimate sacrifice He made for us. As just any ordinary person, Christian or not, freedom can come from releasing ourselves from the expectation we have in anything! (Opening up the opportunity for the great joy that just is.)

It’s a challenge and it takes an abundance of self-awareness. I’m reminding myself of it almost hourly, it seems. 

Alright, let’s be even more honest, my colleagues and I aren’t millions of dollars financially richer, but we had a lot of fun pretending and coming together as a cohesive unit for a chance at something we knew wasn’t likely. We won the experience, anyway.

Disappointment comes out of expectation, except in one expectation that I’ve noticed recently.

Expect something wonderful, and it will happen. Don’t worry about what that something is. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fortuitous Delight


I wasn’t quite sure what it meant when it first popped into my head while visiting wonderful friends over this past weekend, but it sounded good. It sounded good like a delicious freshly baked cookie straight out of the oven. It sounded soothing like the memory of Grandma’s peach cobbler. It felt like a lovely Fall evening with friends or just someone I’m grateful to spend time with. It reminded me of the enjoyment of receiving real mail and recognizing the handwritten return address and who it was from. 

As a Christian, I believe my entire life is written and He’s in the driver seat. Yet, as a human who lives in this very everydayness-of-life kind of existence, I can’t help but feel that it is by some lucky chance that I’m where I am when I am there, and with the people I’m with, when I’m with them. It’s fate, it’s providential, it’s serendipitous, and it’s completely awesome. 

Some relationships and friendships begin out of the simplicity of making an acquaintance. It’s easier to maintain a connection because you go to the same school, have the same interests, or work in the same office. These are not fortuitous friendships, in my opinion. They’re circumstantial, and while not any more or less important or meaningful they’re just not the same.

In a conversation with my father recently, I noted the call of my heart to love certain people with wild abandon comes not from making acquaintances. That call comes out of the chaos of crisis, and the unexpected and unplanned arrival of a friendship, or a connection, that otherwise possibly would never exist. 

In elementary school some attention in grammar was put on the phrase If this, then that.  The causal relationship between one occurrence and another applies here. 

“If [blank] hadn’t happened, then this - whatever is happening right now - wouldn’t be happening.” That’s essentially what I’m getting at. 
“If I hadn’t taken this job, then I wouldn’t have ever met these people.” 
“If I stayed focused on one goal, then these others wouldn’t have become important and I would not have noticed any of these other opportunities.” 

These friendships and connections are fortuitous. They are occurring by happy chance.

If the friendship is fortuitous, then I delight in it!

There’s something about the word “delight” that brings delight to the word. To me, it sounds like what a sunflower in a field of nothing might look like. It looks like the sun rising after a very dark night. It feels like the warm embrace of loving arms in the middle of the day for no reason. It sounds like infectious laughter and the recognition of joy. 

A friend of mine, who I would not have been friends with if a crises hadn’t occurred, recently told me during a conversation that we would never experience that moment again. 

He was right, and I truly delighted in it. 

God wants us to go above and beyond what is required of us in our jobs, in our relationships, in our friendships, and in the everydayness of our lives. I looked at my dear friend from across the room, and I sent glory above for the gut instinct I had years ago to go above the call of my heart. If I hadn’t, then we wouldn’t have been sitting in that room having that conversation.

So, while the moment may be over, it is with fortuitous delight it ever occurred at all. 

Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, 
after you have suffered a little while, 
will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Following the Call of My Heart


When was the last time you did or said something, gave to someone, offered something, prayed or hoped for someone without expecting anything in return? 

Gut-flinching nagging

It’s like a low-grade fever. It is a dull headache that seems to not go away. It’s the annoying feeling that you might be getting a sore throat, but it never fully develops so you don’t actually know.

That’s how I describe the nagging feeling that something isn’t right. 

Did I leave the curling iron on?

Did my rent check get mailed?

Do I have enough money in the bank?

Does [insert name here] know I love them today?

I know the difference when the nagging feeling comes out of selfishness. 

That kind of nagging is much more of a resounding thunder clap that I’d prefer to duck to avoid. I want to avoid it because my guilt is driving my decisions and my choices. 

Is it really humanly possible to give of ourselves without occasionally feeling taken advantage of? 

If it’s not, then why do we feel guilty when we suddenly wonder why that person we’ve given to hasn’t responded, reciprocated, or even acknowledged the heart we put into the matter? 

As a Christian, our God is one who gave His only son so that we could have eternal life. He knows all about us! He knows every sin we’ve ever committed and each one we have yet to make, He knows our griefs, our joys, and our hopes - however lopsided they might be. He knows all these things and He keeps giving and He loves us anyway. 

Do, Say, Give, Offer and Pray anyway. 

I believe and practice the following:

I will give with wild abandon and follow the call of my heart to go above and beyond for some, offer what I can to others, pray for even more, and have hope for all. 

I will do all these things knowing full well that by just being human, I will catch myself at least once, or maybe twice, wondering if it had any impact. Yet, while I wonder, I will also know with all my heart there is an impact and there will always be one until the day I don’t believe there is anymore. I pray that never happens. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Trust, and Embrace the Change


I recently embarked on a journey to find out what makes a successful and lasting marriage. These days, a long-lasting marriage seems to be stuck on the generation of our grandparents, and if we are lucky, our parents. 

I’ve been to weddings before. I’ve supported friends as they walked down the aisle, and I’ve even found myself as a sounding board for those in the midst of trials. 

Yet, I’ve never walked down the aisle, I’ve never even been engaged, and walking down the aisle seems to be the easy part!  

So, recently, while praying for dear friends who were approaching (and are now celebrating) their first wedding anniversary, I decided to seek expert advice. 

I asked friends, colleagues, former colleagues, and my own parents for their wisdom. There are two common themes in all they had to say:

Trust, and embrace the change. 

It seems simple enough, but the statement alone is the work we so often hear about. 

That change? That’s anything! It can be buying a new home, having a child, losing a parent, or creating new friendships and finding different interests and changing jobs. It could even be a change in their sense of humor. 

As I pour over all the words of lived wisdom, I recognize something else: This is life. It’s lived, not planned; it’s ignited into action, not prepared for; it’s celebrated, but not even expected. It is the ebbs and flows of life. 

It, the formidable and the great joys, just happens, and as my Dad says, you have to be on the ready.

Trust the experience, and trust the one you’re with, trust the change, and embrace it all because it, whatever it is, is happening even when you don’t think it is. 

And you know what, I think this advice works for any relationship, not just a marriage. 

The marriage, though, comes with a greater covenant and even better ways to make up.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our Mouths Were Filled With Laughter


Have you ever laughed so hard that your cheeks felt like they might fall off, and you nearly lost your voice because the laughs were deep and with extended bellows?

“You need not take everything so seriously,” I still recall a childhood babysitter saying to me 22 years ago.

Then, tonight, during a moment of fun fellowship with some people from Church, I absolutely didn’t take it seriously!

We laughed, and we laughed about a huge misunderstanding! 

If you’ve seen what the iPhone can do with autocorrect, imagine that, but in a Group Text situation! 

I made a reference to something from the movie “Anchorman” that only one other person in the Group Text conversation understood.

Everyone else didn’t. Tonight, that conversation was read aloud, and hearing it for the first time was pure joy. The best part was that after the line I texted from “Anchorman,” someone texted back, “Amen.” We didn’t catch the hilarity of the moment until we heard it aloud!

Instead of being uncomfortable, we all shared in the joy of the laughter, and not one was offended. Then, we laughed some more. 


Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NIV)
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance

Psalm 126:2 (NIV)
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Someone Else's Story as My Defining Moment


Have you ever experienced a moment?

A defining moment?

You know, getting the first “A” grade back on a paper. Or, the phone ringing when you know it’s the person you have a crush on calling. Perhaps, a moment might be when you’re actively listen to someone speak and earnestly believe you were absolutely meant to be the one listening?

I’m not going to lie, this weekend my joy was dimmed a bit, my mind and thoughts were in overdrive, and I was really ready to get back in the driver’s seat of life when I had a moment.

I’m talking a mountain trembling, rain falling, earth shaking kind of moment. There’s no way I’d ever experience it if I wasn’t where I was and the people there weren’t there. There is no doubt in my mind that the slow fade away from faith would’ve started, or at least, settled in by now, but a moment grabbed me back. 

I listened to someone speak tonight, and I won’t share what he said, because it was confidential and his personal story, but it profoundly affected me and woke me from my possible soon-to-slumber. 

“Awake, O Sleeper!” says Ephesians 5:14. 

I know this to be true: God puts people in our lives for reasons we don’t understand or even need to know yet, but He put them there. Deal with it.

A Defining Moment, as Simple as a Sunset


Sometimes, they’re there for a moment, or a season, or for our entire lives consistently or not. Either way, it’s these particular people we notice and recognize how their presence in our lives shakes us, or trembles, or calls us into action and we are never the same again. That's many moments, many of them defining, some of them redefining, and it's all the work of Jesus in disguise!


Isaiah 64:1-3 (NIV)
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze and
causes water to boil, come down
to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down and the mountains trembled before you!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Face the Fear, See the View


Adequacy in the face of fear is one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment any person may have.

I’m afraid of heights, but I love, and feel enriched by, a great view.

“View,” I am told is one of the very first words I ever uttered. My Dad journaled in my childhood diaries that I walked to the large floor-to-ceiling windows of the home we were moving to in 1981 and looked out to the golf course. 

“View.”

As tiny as I was at the time, and the house being above ground, two or so stories, I’m surprised the height didn’t scare me. 
So, when this past June when I decided that going zip-lining would be a great idea, my choice was to completely ignore the fear. It was a great plan, and it worked right up until I was standing on the ledge.

The instructor was telling me to sit down, lean back, and get into a cannonball-like position. I heard him, alright, but was completely shaken after watching the person in front of me zip across a canyon, hundreds of feet above the ground in just 15 seconds across something almost the length of a football field.

Gasp. 

“I’m sorry, you want me to do what, now?” 


Two and a half lines later, I couldn’t wait to do it again! All of my fears were relieved, and once I stopped shaking and fighting the experience (that I chose to participate in - willingly), the view was absolutely stunning.

I’m not a fan of speed, but I do love the feel of the wind in my face and the color of a crisp white snow as I make it down a mountain. I like it as much as I’d like to sit in a cabin and drink hot chocolate, but inside I can’t see that view. Not to mention, I’d probably crash into a tree if I kept my eyes closed on the ski slopes. 
Whether you are sitting at a window with your eyes closed and waiting for a storm to pass so that you may open them and see the sunshine; or, you’re standing on the ledge of a decision, a choice, that has every fiber of your being shaking; or, you’re worried your life is moving too quickly for you to enjoy it, when you do open your eyes, and you take that leap of faith, you just might like what you see, and ultimately, who you are. 

I’ve always liked a good view. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Celebrate Others and You Will Celebrate Yourself


Celebrate others and you will celebrate yourself.

It seems simple enough, but sometimes many of us get caught up in our own selfish desires, preferences, and “ways of doing things” that we miss the point.

When I finished high school, a group of my close girl friends and I hoped to take a graduation celebratory trip. 

San Francisco, Hawaii, New York, and downtown San Diego were all possibilities, but they eventually dissolved into nothing.

Two of us really just wanted to spend time with everyone and tried to come up with multiple options that would fit all of our interests.

It didn’t work out well, when one person didn’t want to fly, another person didn’t want to drive, and then the train was out of the question.

Illegal activity and violation of common sense isn’t an option. So, not including those activities, I find when I put my selfish preferences aside, I’m challenged to enjoy something I wouldn’t have considered enjoying.

That surrendering to the experience often reveals a greater experience than one I ever could imagine or plan. 

It’s about enjoying the experience, who you’re enjoying it for, and doing it without grumbling. 

In fact, the best experiences of my life have been the ones in which I just said, “Yes!” and went with the flow, stopping only when I knew it absolutely wasn’t right. 

When it’s a friend’s wedding, and you’re in it, or a birthday party and you’re going, or a Bachelorette or Bachelor Party that you’re throwing, and it’s not what you would do, remember who you’re doing it for. 

If one of my friends said, “I want you to be my party planner for my 35th birthday.”

“What do you want to do?” I would immediately ask. 

It’s not about me, it’s about me honoring them in the same way I hope they would honor and respect me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Clinging to the Hot Air Balloon


I’m an only child. 

That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I was at a seminar with the Junior League of Las Vegas in Pasadena, California over the past weekend.

It was a series of questions that began, “Who are you?”

Well, and then, that was the only question that was asked. The questioning went on for two minutes and I came up with a total of 16 adjectives and descriptive words and phrases. 

  • Only child
  • Friend
  • Volunteer
  • Professional
  • Emotional person
  • Sensitive person
  • Stubbornly thoughtful
  • Someone who lives in Las Vegas
  • in-Between everything
  • A Christian
  • student of philosophy
  • fan of crisis management
  • news nut
  • wine drinker
  • caffeine addict
  • middle of the road

Yes, that’s what I look like to myself when asked, repeatedly, over and over again, on a Saturday mid-morning without much coffee or sleep the night before.

What’s interesting about this is that the first thing that came to mind was, “Only child.”

On the ride down to Pasadena, someone discussed with me their concerns about raising an only child. I offered up my fears and my own memories.

“I felt lonely at times,” I said. “But, mostly, I worry about being alone when my parents are gone.” 

I explained one of the best parts about being an only child is that we choose our family.

Fast forward a few nights, and here I am having a discussion, via text message, that bounces right off of this concept. 

Here’s the conversation and it’s edited for your pleasure:

Me: Us lonely only’s just surf the ride of life until we find friends who can sustain the wave. And therefore, we stay upright.
Friend: Exactly! We’ll keep supporting each other as friends and as sisters. You’ve done very well rising the surf!
Me: You’ve got that right! This world is too big and too hard to wade waters alone. And, one day, when my parents are gone - I will be alone. 
Friend: We have to cling to those we love, and I’ll be there right there with you whenever you need me.
Me: Thank you. And yes,
And here comes the part that I want to reiterate to anyone who is willing to listen.
“Clinging may not be the right word, but I do often use the illustration of hanging onto the basket of a hot air balloon - even when it might be falling - not wanting to let the others crash alone.
And, so that we can also rise to see the sunrises and sunsets of their lives... When the fire is burning bright.” 

So, who are you?

1 Peter 4:8-11 (NIV)
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers
a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another
without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has
received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s
grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks he should
 do it as if speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should
do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things
God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory.”

Sunday, September 16, 2012

5 "Things": A Successful Life


When I think of the phrase “self love” the first thoughts that come to my mind aren’t necessarily what the topic is really about.

In her song “Secret” Madonna sings, “Until I learned to love myself, I was never, ever lovin’ anybody else.” 

That’s where the real issue is! If we, ourselves, think we are unloveable, chances are a lot of people around us might feel the same way about us. 

In a seminar I participated in this weekend on this very topic, I was challenged to write the answer to a question. I chose to think that God was asking the question and no one else. 

“Imagine you are on your deathbed, and I am with you, 
and I ask, ‘What were the five things you accomplished or experienced 
that made your life a total success?’” 

Here’s what I wrote, September 15, 2012, with grammatical and tense errors, and all, as I waffled between the present and the certain, but hopefully not soon, future:

“The first things I think of about making my life a total success:
First, my relationship with God and the pursuit of developing my faith. 

The second thing I think of is how I interacted with my friends, by being encouraging and loving even when they may have been unloveable, and making amends when I realized someone should make them.   Also, third, would be telling and showing the ones I love that I love them when I do and not waiting another minute.  
Fourth, giving up what others think of me. Everyone has an opinion and while I will always strive to do what is legally and morally right, I cannot care about what anyone thinks. I would go crazy trying to please everyone. 
So, leaping with a strong heart, and open eyes, and hands outreached for all I can. 

I will not consider my life a success for the awards I earn, the praise I receive, or the jobs that I have. It is not my money earned or not earned, or where I lived, or the clothes I wore. 
It is, fifth, and finally, the family I have, the family I created, the friends I love, and that it was my life.
And, it was for God.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Who Are We Succeeding For?


When I was 13, the teachers and my peers at Del Dios Middle School awarded me with the title “Most Likely to Succeed.” 

“Aren’t you proud,” people would ask.
“So, what are you going to do,” people would wonder.
“How do you feel,” is the question that would follow.

I’ve written about the importance of accepting compliments, but honors and awards are different than compliments. Actual recognition seems to come with some unspoken expectation that you will exceed the desired outcome of those awarding you the honor. 

At least, that’s how I felt about it. I went into high school thinking I should not only already be a news anchor in some small town, but that I should also know exactly how I was going to succeed! Talk about pressure.

Recently, I learned I was the recipient of an unexpected honor of appreciation at work, and the first thing I thought of was how was I going to live beyond it. 

Does an Academy-Award Winning Actor stop pursuing roles that challenge him or her? Or, do they pursue the things that push them beyond even that line?

The answers are this:

We should always push ourselves to be better than we already are, while accepting and understanding our own limitations. 

But, we should never strive to please everyone and meet everyone else’s expectations of us. We would go absolutely crazy trying to do so, and their expectation is nowhere near the same as our own.

And, you know what? I’m not the center of the world, and neither are “they.” 


Romans 8:28, 31
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? 
If God is for us, who can be against us?”