My Character Check: Passing Judgment “F”

IvyIt was a brilliantly sunny Beverly Hills, California day sitting at the famed Ivy Restaurant. I was enjoying a wonderful lunch with my visiting cousins from Russia. Not the ordinary experience for me.

To be clear, first of all I don’t eat lunch in Beverly Hills everyday and second, I was creating a memory with family I had just met and touring all the LA attractions with them. On my top ten, this was definitely a highlight. My California cousin had arranged for us to eat at this beautiful place in hopes that we might catch a celebrity or two. We learned the Ivy is a place for the local celebrities to gather and enjoy elegant food and the ambience of vases full of roses on every table and decor in an elegant vintage flare. Wouldn’t it be a blast if our  guests could catch a glimpse of a celebrity favorite?

It happened. Right next to us. At first, I had a hunch that someone famous was sitting next to us. She was perfectly put together and it made me feel small and insignificant. She was sitting so close to me, I could of touched her. The comparison game started, from her flawless make-up to her well-toned body to her beautiful dress, shoes and bag.  My cousin whispered to me, “That face doesn’t happen without plastic surgery.” I kept catching quick glances; you know the ones where you don’t want someone to know that you are staring at them?  How ridiculous, like I expected to see the tiny scars underneath her hairline? Hello?

I decided to get up and go use the little girls room and freshen up. After all, I was certain I was sitting next to a star. I looked in the mirror and thought, geez, I don’t look so bad today, so I stood up taller and threw my shoulders back and walked back to my table confidently. As we sat and ate we tried to think of where we had seen her.

I couldn’t place her.

Instead I judged her.

Her looks,

Her clothes,

Her shoes,

Her mannerisms as she talked.

And I am not proud to say, it went on and it wasn’t fair because I think she actually was a very lovely person having lunch with her friend. And she was minding her own business. This was not one of my finer character moments.

Why did I do that? Because, I felt insecure in the moment of who I was and what I do and I was not in my familiar territory, which by the way are just excuses for my bad attitude.

I felt insignificant compared to the fact that she was a recognized celebrity and I was not. How very childish and well plain STUPID!

Just as she was leaving a couple came up and asked to take a picture with her and gushed over how she was their favorite and all that. Out of nowhere the paparazzi showed up snapping pics as she got into her car. Now we were VERY curious so we asked our waiter. It turned out that she was Lisa Vanderpump from The Beverly Hills Housewives reality show.  That explained everything, or did it?

When we got back to our hotel we did our homework and read everything we could about her. The more I read, the smaller I felt, but different this time. Small in the way that I was totally ashamed of myself of how quick I jumped to conclusions and stereotyped a person because of my own insecurity.  YUCK…this part of my character I don’t like.

I read an overview of her book Simply Divine: A Guide to Easy, Elegant, and Affordable Entertainment and in the first few pages you get a glimpse of the very ordinary and loving person that she is. And you know what I found? A woman whose heart is committed to loving and serving her family, her friends and her community. A woman who desires to use her success to help others. A woman who says her secret is working hard, taking risks and never giving up. She’s been married to the same man for over 30 years a definite rare find in Hollywood.  I also found a kindred heart in her passion for writing, and I could relate when she talked about loving her family through the art of cooking. Really? And guess what, she freely admits she’s trying to grow older gracefully with no plastic surgery! How is that for the ultimate judgment card? Not a proud moment!

I don’t know if what drives her at her core, but what I do know is what I claim that my faith teaches. God says that I shouldn’t be quick to judge another person. It is wrong, it’s not my place, it is shameful and it only reveals the ugliness in my own heart. Sigh….I thought I was passed it, but guess I have some more work to do!

Time to dig a little deeper and next time be careful with my thoughts and my words of casting a judgment on someone I know nothing about.

Character check~passing judgment I get a definite big fat “F” on that day. But I am glad for the experience, it has made me think and reflect once again and I’m grateful that God ordained that moment for me. Tomorrow is another chance, another opportunity to pass the next test that comes my way. Jesus, help me to catch myself the next time and watch my thoughts as they form a web of words that seek to judge and not give the grace I need. Help me to see others through your eyes and believe the best in people.

 

 

 

 

How to Avoid an Emotional Titanic Disaster in Leadership

It’s that time of year for me again to go in for my yearly physical. I am not very intentional about it, and yet I know it is critical for me to monitor my health on a regular basis. If I want to enjoy life and the beauty of all I hold dear, it’s not an option, I have to just do it!

It’s the same for me in other areas~emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I need a regular check-up. So  let me ask you, how is your health these days? More specifically, how is your emotional health? Let’s start there. Many of us like to ignore this part of ourselves. We’d rather just gloss over and assess our physical and spiritual well-being, that’s easier. It seems like it can be measured quickly with a checklist. But when it comes to our emotional side, we can be sailing away as happy as the Titanic oblivious to the impending danger ahead, and like that fated night, the ship that wasn’t supposed to ever sink, not only sank, but over two-thirds of those onboard lost their lives in the frigid sea. There were miscalculations from the master builders of the ship to the crew and as a result it became one of the largest disasters of that era.

Digging into the emotional side of us can be intimidating and rather frightening. It’s like digging into the back of a deep closet. I have two of those in my house. I’ve only recently had the courage to take everything out that is in front and really clean out the back. I found both treasures and items I had to discard including mystery boxes full of things I didn’t even know I possessed. It was work, it took time, but now I know what’s in the back of my closets. It brings order to that part of my life, and it feels good.

Digging deep emotionally and cleaning out the back of our emotional closets is healthy. I have found it to be tough but it has brought a level of health to my heart as I’ve been willing to look at some hard stuff. If you are like me, I need help to know how to begin to even dismantle this closet in my soul. How do we start?

I have a dog-eared copy of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. I have read it so many times I need to get a new copy. I’ve used it to encourage others to start the journey of becoming emotionally healthy because it has been transformative for me.  Peter says, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature.” He lists 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality.

Read them, make a note of which ones trigger some red flags and then do some investigation to start on the journey of your own emotional health AND….

Talk it over with a friend, see a counselor if you have to.

Take the first step of digging deeper.

I promise you it is worth it.

Not easy and gut wrenching.

But worth it in the long run. I believe every leader needs to contemplate the principles Peter has in this book. It opened my own eyes several years ago of just how much this side of my life impacts everything I do, from my personal life to how I lead others. It has shaped and changed me as I’ve allowed God’s spirit to help me get to the back of that deep dark closet.

Here are the Top Ten Symptoms:

1. Using God to run from God

2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear

3. Dying to the wrong things

4. Denying the past’s impact on the present

5. Diving our lives into “secular” and “sacred” compartments

6. Doing for God instead of being with God.

7. Spiritualizing away conflict

8. Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure

9. Living without limits

10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey

Hit a nerve? Any of these make you feel uncomfortable? Great! That’s a good sign, you are on the path. Ask God to help you know how to start and just pick one or two. Small consistent steps make for permanent change.

Life piles up, we cycle in and out with our habits and patterns. Eventually, if we don’t take note of what’s going on deep inside, we may hit an emotional disaster like the Titanic and sink. I encourage you to pay attention to your heart, dig deep and do some preventative work as Proverbs 4:23 says, Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.”

 

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero: copyright 2006, Integrity Publishers,Franklin TN, page 24)

New Chapters….Letting Go

I was sitting on the floor in our guest room with a stack of binders. Four to be exact. They were the aftermath of a closet purging of which I emptied 15 binders. Years of teaching, seminars and random musings I’ve collected along the ministry trail. Tackling the first 15 weren’t too hard. The last four I left for another day to come back to because I had to think about it. Actually, to be truthful, I had to let go.

The binders were full of just paper, planning an event that happened almost 10 years ago. Why was I struggling? I came to realize it was more the emotional connection of what was contained in the binders that was difficult to pry my fingers off to put it in the recycle bin.

The binders represented a regional event and conference. It was God-orchestrated in which servant leaders came from all over North America (at their own expense) to engage women to love on their cities and learn how to leverage their influence to make a difference. It was an event to call out women to be world-changers.

I remember receiving calls from other parts of the nation asking how we were we able to get the kind of well-known speakers when our church could only could squeeze in about 700ish pre-firemarshall inspection! What was our secret? My answer was, “I can’t tell you, it is a God-thing.” Really, like God cares about celebrity speakers! It’s our heart and motive, but that’s for another blog post. Geesh!

I don’t have room in this post to tell you the whole history, all I can say it was above and beyond what I could of even imagined as Ephesians 3:20 encourages us, to dream big. I remember a few nights before the conference I was on my face before God. I heard him whisper in my heart to get ready, that he was going to show Himself in a way I hadn’t seen before. I shared with the team, we prepared ourselves and He wasn’t kidding!

The first night, the beginning of summer, the room was hot because the air-conditioner broke moments before the evening started. Nearly 800 glistening women from 147 churches and organizations were squeezed into the room that night hungry for God.

God showed up like He promised.

He revealed himself.

Lives were changed.

My faith increased.

I sat down and wept as I watched God move through the room changing hearts and calling his daughters to rise up! It was a moment I never ever, ever will forget. Of course, I want to save every scrap of planning contained in that binder because it represented more than my heart can convey at this moment. I tear up even now thinking about it!

So the other night as I read through each section,

I thanked God.

I cried.

I praised Him.

And I want to believe there will be other moments like that night.

There has been so much that has happened post-conference years. Some really amazing times and some deeply pain worn paths. To be gut honest, some of the more ugly moments I feel has disqualified me for the future. But then I remember, God defines me not my past. Brokenness is a pre-requisite that gets us ready for the next chapter.

God is doing a work in my heart and as I’ve been on this purging binge throughout my house, I sense He is whispering his wooing words of love to me that there is a change coming. I sense He is saying to lift up my head, pay attention and watch and be ready. Let go, trust Him. A new chapter, a new story and a new beginning that He wants to write on my heart.

It’s funny how God will use something so human, so routine and drudging as purging a closet to speak to my heart. That’s what I love about God, he really, really gets me and He knows how to reach my heart. My job is to listen. I am choosing to listen and not blow this off. I sense it is significant and I need to pay attention. Wait, watch and lean in.

What is God saying to you today? What letting go do you need to do so the new chapter can begin?

 

 

 

5 Ways to Lead from your Legacy

Cuddling new babies, making cookies, meals, cleaning and sharing family birthdays and memories has been the order of the day recently. In the short span of 30 days we’ve added two new family members~sweet baby girls, a book launch~a dream fulfilled, we’ve celebrated a first new home for one of our kids, and had the opportunity to love on, serve and spend a great chunk of time with each other.

It the legacy I choose. Family.

It’s what I value and what is important. Family and relationships.

It’s what I am praying and hoping will be the inheritance my children and grand-children will recognize as a faith builder in their lives.

As a leader I’ve come to realize over the years that at the end of my days the greatest influence I will have is within my own family. It will become my legacy ready or not.  If I forget the gift that I’ve been entrusted to with these precious relationships, will anything else I do really matter?

There was a time as a young Mom that I just wanted to hurry up the years of raising my children.

I wanted to get on with life, with ministry, with having an impact as a leader, and I wanted them to cooperate.

The rewards were more significant as a leader than as a mother back in those days.

Driving the carpool, being the short-order cook, wiping snotty noses and being the homework gestapo didn’t get much applause.

God pretty much had to lovingly smack me on the side of the head and helped me to realize, that my family was my ministry! The life lessons I learned within the four walls of my home were the catalyst for deepening my gifts of ministry. At that season, it was the assignment that was primary, my children. Yes, there was time for ministry, but the greatest growth spurt as a leader were in those routines of being a faithful follower of Jesus and committed Mom. It changed my life and taught me how to be a servant leader by loving on my family and learning to be fully present.

Here are 5 things I learned about Leading from my Legacy and faithfully being committed to my primary calling as a Mom.

1.  BE FLEXIBLE: Things don’t always go as planned ~ Life interruptions happen and we need to be flexible. Our attitude reveals itself when things don’t go the way we hoped they would. A leaders attitude in the midst of a shift reveals our character. Life is unpredictable, have a prepared response and ask yourself what is the worst that can happen if the plan falls apart? Be ready for a Plan B. As a mom, many, many, many, should I say it once more MANY times I had to resort to Plan B! Oh it was frustrating for this Type A, recovering perfectionist, always having to have the perfect plan type of person, but it broke me down to realize LIFE HAPPENS and it doesn’t always turn out the way I hoped.

2. WATCH YOUR MOUTH: People are listening to what you say, how you react, and how you respond. Ask yourself the question, do I react or respond in my leadership? Many times, I blew it as a Mom, I reacted instead of responded. My kids helped me to rethink how to grow up in this area. I learned this when I realized that I became a mirror for how they dealt with circumstances by watching me react or respond. It doesn’t sound so good when a 5 year old is mimicking their Mom’s less than mature reaction.

3. BE QUICK TO BELIEVE THE BEST IN ONE ANOTHER: Preconceived ideas and assumptions can kill a relationship. Ask yourself the question, why would a reasonable person act this way? It’s easy to allow our emotions to catch us and think we know how the other person feels. I learned to ask questions of my children. Using the why, where, how and what questions helped me to believe the best in them and wait for their heart to speak. When we assume the best in people, it breaks down walls and defenses and builds bridges of greater trust.

4. DON’T PUSH TOO HARD: Having a vision is noble. Pushing people beyond their limits for the sake of the cause is unhealthy. Know when to take a break and encourage those you lead to rest and restore emotionally, physically and spiritually. Growing up with the idea that ALL work must be finished before we can rest or play has caused me to drive myself too hard, my family and others. It worked until in my mid 30’s I crashed and suffered a five year depression as a result of not paying attention to a healthy rythym of work and rest. Knowing your limits as a leader and helping those you lead understand this concept will bring a greater sense of well-being and health to your team.

5. CELEBRATE SUCCESSES BOTH SMALL AND BIG: So often we focus on celebrating the bigger accomplishments. People expect them. It’s natural.  But what about celebrating the small steps? Little reminders of progress help to keep going and to reach the finish line. I often wrote notes of encouragement to my family and put them in all sorts of fun places for them to find. Sometimes, it was just going to the store to get a doughnut for a good grade on a spelling test. Everyone needs encouragement. A hand-written note, yes you heard me, not an email but a note that you actually write out can make the world of difference to someone. A phone-call to say “Hey, I was just thinking about you and had a thought for you”…yes, a phone-call not a text, where someone can actually hear your voice. These are small but not insignificant ways we can celebrate others.

What have you learned about leadership from your legacy?

 

Lazy Days of Summer?

SummersunsetThe lazy days of summer phrase doesn’t seem to apply to me this summer. It has been crazy, crazy, busy. I’m not sure I have had a day let alone an hour to actually apply “the lazy days of summer.” It has just happened that way for 2013. Not that I am complaining mind you, it really has been an amazing season with new grand-daughters, the dream of the book, Unlocked being released and all that surrounds new adventures.

Now that we are soon headed into autumn, I am not sure I am ready. What is being ready for the next season look like anyway? How can I be ready for something I don’t even fully know what it will look like? I have plans, because I am a planner, but there are still some fuzzy places. So I go back to my trusted resource, the Bible and I find in Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (NLT) Hmmm…so let me get this straight, I can make plans as best I can, but it is God who will actually determine what the steps to that plan will look like. Listen to this version from the Message Bible, it puts an entirely different twist on this verse in Proverbs. “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.” At the end of the day, or season or year, what really matters is living out our days, hours, minutes and seconds because God makes us able to live it!

I don’t know about you, but I just felt the tension leave my tired body! He knows the kind of season I’ve had, it’s been a roller coaster high, but now I have to come down the track off the thrill of the ride and I realize I am tired. A good tired. That’s okay. It’s perfectly alright to be tired before the next season. So how do I gear up for the transition feeling tired? Funny, I was just reminded this past Sunday of Psalm 46:10. “Be still, and know that I am God.” If you read the chapter in its entirety, there is a lot of chaos going on and this little itty bitty phrase comes at the end of this psalm reminding the reader that all we have to do is be still before God. Do you know what follows that profound phrase at the end of the chapter? “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” I don’t think I ever quite read it like that before. The take away for me is that in the midst of trying to regain my strength, I need to be still and know that He is God but also know that God is with me. More release….sigh…pressure off……….sigh.

I am tired, it’s been busy. Fall is coming, it will be busy, maybe even chaotic. I have lots of plans, but God will determine how I will get there. The key is for me to rest, be still and believe that God knows, He sees and He will carry out His plans in my life as I acknowledge his presence by being still! Doesn’t that take off the pressure? What release of pressure do you need to acknowledge to be ready for the next season?

 

How to Get a Blackeye

Blackeye1No, this is not a bad makeup job, this is a blackeye! I’ve never had one, so it was an experience. As you know if you’ve read my blog, we’ve had a flurry of excitement this past week. I was on call to head down to the hospital for baby #2 to be born. My bag was packed, it was late, I received a text to be ready. They were going to call.

My tired hubby was already in bed. The room was dark, the house was silent. I slipped out of bed to retrieve the phone, I tip toed to be quiet so I wouldn’t wake the tired hubby. The fan was on the left so I knew not to walk into that, but what I didn’t anticipate was the door being half open. You guessed it, I ran right smack into the door face first, foot second with a loud crash the sound of a tackle at a football game. Now the tired hubby was up and on his feet looking at his wife covering her face and trying to hobble back to bed. I was reeling from the thunder and lightnening sensation that reverberated through my skull when I hit the door. I finally got into bed and hubby administered ice packs to both wounds~head and foot. I did finally get to rest that night and the baby, Norah Lily decided to wait another day to arrive. What a thoughtful granddaughter!

This experience reminds me of trying to lead with good intentions, do all the right things and have a plan with carefully outlined steps for success. Everything can be going according to plan, it seems smooth and steady when we crash into an unknown obstacle and we get hurt. This happened to me several years back. I hit the door with one of my team members planning an event. We worked closely together. I had her back and I thought she had mine. I thought I was doing the right thing, but we ran face first into the door, an obstacle. I had good intentions but the more I tried to reconcile the issue the worse it became. I even called in back-up~wise counselors to help me, I tried everything, and it didn’t work, it wouldn’t resolve no matter how hard I tried to be humble, empathize and be gracious. I finally I had to let go, but it hurt. It hurt like crazy. I like my relationships to work, I like to think I work hard at validating others and encouraging them on my leadership team. But it didn’t happen and I felt like a failure. Not only was my heart hurt from the unkind things that were said about me but because I couldn’t fix it, I felt like I failed as a leader. And the worse part was, I had to pick up with the team and move forward without full resolution. We did the best we could as a team, it was a loss not just for me, but for the team.

What do we do when we get a blackeye as a leader? It certainly doesn’t go away overnight. This picture is a few days ago, and today my eye is blacker and bluer than it was yesterday. The appearance of the wound is prominent even though the headache has subsided, but the mark of hitting the door is still evident. That’s what hurt does, it leaves a mark on us, but it doesn’t have to define who we are. It should make us stronger and wiser.

What could I have done differently that night? I could of turned on the light, or used my iPhone as a flashlight, but even then my tired hubby would of been disturbed. So what can I learn from this? That is what I had to ask myself when I hit the door several years ago and got hurt trying to do the right thing. I finally came to the conclusion with a quiet whisper from God to just let go. I surrendered. I stopped trying to figure it all out and make sense of it, I released it and trusted God that He in his wisdom would make sense of it for me. By letting go, I received God’s peace.

Leadership is messy sometimes, it doesn’t always go according to plan. There are doors half open in the middle of the night that impede our journey. It’s what we will do after we encounter the obstacle that is the most important lesson of leadership. We take responsibility for our own actions. We trust. We let go. We learn. We leave it for God to sort out.

What has been a blackeye of leadership for you?

 

My Addiction with Cookie Butter

Cookie ButterThis is going to be a totally frivolous post. I am just warning you.  Tomorrow I have a surprise and some newsy items, and will give you the “real” post. But today, I thought I would share with you my love affair with COOKIE BUTTER!

I first was introduced to this sinful and wicked delight when I was on a trip this past year. I had seen it many times in Trader Joe’s, but for some reason passed it by. It just sounded weird! Now I am the one who is weird because I have become addicted (OUCH!) to this delectable treat, so much so that I had been stalking Trader Joe’s for over a month. They ran out. How dare they! They were only getting a case a day and every time I showed up, in the morning in the afternoon, in the evening, I got the same answer, WE ONLY HAVE A CASE AND IT’S ALL GONE! I was tempted to blame my shopping neighbors to the North for stealing all of it, but I confessed. They were entitled to the addiction as much as I was. Sigh….

I finally gave up asking, and last week I was running an errand and I sent my hubbie to TJ to pick up a few items. Guess what he came back with when he picked me up? Two jars, I couldn’t believe it! I told him we had to go back and get more, what if they run out again? He looked at me with that look that says, “I’d better do what she says because she has that wild look in her eye.” So we turned around and we went back. I quickly made my way down the aisle and there it was, rows and rows of Cookie Butter. I just stood there and stared, blocking the path of anyone who would dare to reach over me to grab a jar. I quickly calculated how much I really should buy. What if there was another shortage?  I decided on another two jars. I thought I’d better share and not stockpile. Four jars would take care of my problem for awhile. When I went to pay for it, I told my saga to the cashier, equally she was happy for the many customers who thought they had been deprived for so long.

So you might ask, what is Cookie Butter? It is kind of a sweet and spicy spread made from Speculoos Cookies. It has the consistency of peanut butter which means it is great on toast, to dip with fruit, or on ice cream. The best way is to just take a spoon and dig in and savor it. Nasty stuff, don’t look at the calorie count, but a treat for someone weird like me!

Purging 102

dirty mopThis is a picture of my steam mop AFTER I cleaned all my surfaces inside my house the other day. It was so disgusting because it had been perfectly pristine white. The picture doesn’t even show how dingy and black it really was. I felt really good after cleaning everything but it took me awhile to get in the “mopping mode.” I didn’t plan on cleaning that morning, but I got up and the sun was shining all over the floor exposing the hidden dirt and spots and I just couldn’t stand it any longer. I started in the larger grimy areas but then there were rugs, furniture and plants that needed to be moved. UGHH!! This was turning into a project when I just wanted a quick solution!

I had a decision to make. Was I going to just clean the parts that were the most obvious or was I going to move everything and and “really” clean? Did I have the time? Did I want to? NO!! I proceeded the task by moving area to area and then I fully SURRENDERED, I made a decision to just do it all. By the time I was finished, I was hot, sweaty and feeling pretty good about it. I knew all the dirt was gone, even under the rugs and behind furniture. I could proudly say, it was ALL clean.

Since we have been talking about purging from my last post, I am sure you know where this is headed. At times, I get my best inspiration doing ordinary tasks and God spoke to me loud and clear as I was pushing that steam mop around. I think it was a new kind of morning devotion for me. Just the day before in my Gideon study from Judges 6, God had been speaking to me about surrender and full-out obedience. FYI the reason Gideon was called to lead Israel against the feared Midianites is because another leader hadn’t fully surrendered and “purged” the land as God had called them too earlier. He was the man for the job according to God. Israel was under such horrible oppression overrun by the enemy that they were in hiding and they cried out to God in their distress. MInd you, their distress was a result of their partial obedience earlier. Keep that in mind as you read on.God in His mercy had a plan and He sent them Gideon. But first, Gideon had to purge the idols and practices from his own family, closest to home, he had to clean house so to speak. He had to move the furniture, aka the altar of Baal in his own father’s family. He was scared, he was afraid, but it was the first step to conquering the enemy. He had to surrender closest to home first. He had to “purge” which meant moving the furniture around.

The lesson is this, many times I believe I am fully surrendered to God, but I don’t move the furniture because I’m in a hurry and I don’t want to take the time. I do the outward, feel good, okay, I’m surrendered, sure God method. Friends, let me tell you, we need to take the time to do it God’s way the first time! I wasn’t sure I wanted to dive into the whole project of cleaning ALL my floors but once I got started and took small steps, it came easier. I think that is how we surrender to God and purge unwanted dirt and debris of sin from our lives. We start small. We move one piece of furniture at a time and clean under that area and then move to the next. God is patient, He is merciful and He is faithful. He works with us and our willingness, He gives grace and oh such incredible lovingkindness to us when we just start moving the very first piece of furniture to clean under.

Here’s a verse that came out of the study this week that made me think about I don’t need to move the junk by myself in my heart. Psalm 138:3 “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” You and I just have to call out to Him, take the first step, move the first small piece of furniture and God will increase our strength to do the final job of cleaning and purging towards surrender. Here’s to more purging!!

 

Can I stay organized in the summer?

As you can see, I haven’t posted in a month! I want to be a faithful blogger so it wasn’t my intention to drop off the face of the earth for a month. It never is, I had goals in mind and then… well, summer hit and the laziness of sunny days distracted me. I realized that I need to have a plan because it is so easy for me to get distracted. You know the visual when you are trying to focus and then you see a “SQUIRREL” and I find myself chasing something that wasn’t part of the plan? Summer time should have some “SQUIRREL” moments and spontaneity, but I do like to focus on a few projects in the summer that get pushed away during the rest of the year.

So here is my plan, today is July 16th and officially there are about 9 weeks left of summer if you follow the calendar of summer ending September 21st. Mentally for me, summer ends after the first week of September. That gives me a little over six weeks until in my thinking summer will wind down. What can I accomplish in six weeks to stay organized with a plan and still leave room for impromptu coffee’s, reading, and BBQ’s with friends and family? It’s something last year I learned from Bill Hybels at the Willow Leadership Summit and who is also a mentor for me in leadership. It’s called the 6 x 6. I am modifying it a bit but here is the jest of it. Find a 3 x 5 card and write down six projects or goals you want to accomplish in six weeks. They can be anything from small projects, reading, relationships you want to cultivate, to self-care and growth goals, you get the idea. Place that card somewhere you can visualize it daily. Review it, pray over it and then watch and see how a simple step like a 6 x 6 can make a difference.

I love summer, but I also love to be productive and accomplish at least a few things that I normally wouldn’t have the time for during the rest of the year OR just to get a mental jump-start for a new adventure that is coming up around the corner. Yes, I think it is entirely possible to be a little organized in the summer and still enjoy the laid back days that happen upon us. So what do you think? Are you game to try the 6 x 6 with me? I’ll let you in on my first one on my card, it is the word PURGE. I will fill you in on the details of that later, but for now, I’ve a goal to wander around my house with large bags and containers and start purging to get rid of some of the clutter! Are you inspired? Let me know what works for you.

 

My “Word” for June

I love writing, its cathartic for me but when you have a blog I feel like somedays, what should I write about that matters today? I don’t want to just throw stuff out into cyberspace about my reflections on life that are random. I want them to make a difference. I want to encourage and inspire people to flourish and live life brilliantly the way God designed them to. So, as I was thinking about it. I am kind of a structured kind of girl. Not too structured, but enough to keep me moving forward. Too much random chaos sends me over the edge. I can handle it in small doses but for the most part, I yell inside my head, “Okay time to bring this into order.”

So now where am I going with these random thoughts? I thought I might experiment in my blog with every month choosing a word and then writing about it. I am going to give it a try at least for 3 months. That’s my go to–try anything for three months and see if it sticks. For June, the word WORSHIP has captured me like a sticky note reminder on my fridge.

So here goes…it will be short and sweet for today. Yesterday, it was an amazingly gorgeous June day. I was driving in the country, worship music blaring and just observing all that God had set before me. Don’t worry, I was watching the other traffic, tractors and all. I had a panoramic view because I have a fun car, okay I have a Mustang convertible that my husband bought me for a “big” birthday several years ago! On days like today and yesterday there is something wonderful and refreshing about driving in the country, convertible top down, worship music blaring and the wind blowing through my hair and touching my face. It is like a kiss from heaven! I can see everything from a different perspective and it changes my viewpoint of the day.

Now I have a confession, yesterday, I was so overwhelmed and anxious. I was having trouble settling down, I could almost feel myself want to crawl out of my skin. I tried alot of things, but the one thing that works for me is cranking up the tunes and singing at the top of my lungs. Can you picture it? Blue mustang convertible screaming down a country road, Grandma driving like a teenager (I have 2 darlin’s and 2 more on the way) in the driver’s seat, singing at the top of her lungs like a crazy person with one hand up in the air resting on the top of the windshield. It was like being on a roller coaster and doing the wave, one handed mind you, but nearly the same. it did the trick. By focusing on Almighty God, my rock, my refuge, my very present help in time of trouble, but in this instance feeling overwhelmed and anxious, it cured me of my anxiety and heart sickness. Before I knew it, I felt the freedom in my heart and spirit, and I was grateful. That is what worship did for me yesterday. How about you? What does worship look like for you?