Quality counts.

In 2016, I ran my first 1/2 marathon. I had two goals for that 13.1 mile race: have fun and don’t walk. Back then, I was happy to accomplish both. But, let’s just be honest, I didn’t properly train for the race. I signed up and did it because I wanted to be able to say I could. My goal was completion- not competition. Prior to race day, the longest distance I had ever ran was only 8 miles! I took a 5 mile leap of faith, hoping I could do it. I got lucky! I ran the entire race without walking, but I didn’t necessarily run well. At the time, I was happy, but I know I didn’t run at my best potential.

I recently signed up for another race. While the goal of completion is a good one, this time, it’s not enough. I don’t just want to run the race, I want to run well.

This is so true of life. I don’t just want to live, I want to live well.

Last week I mentioned my word for the year was QUALITY. The more I look into how that truly applies, the better it gets!

We justify the pace of life. We glorify the hustle and allow the demands of our own expectations to assault our schedule. As a result, what is urgent, necessary and immediate gets our best attention. Those things get handled, while the truly important things are pushed to the side burner. Quality will redefine your priorities.

We have settled with good enough for long enough. We have forgotten the power and potential of finding our best.

In the midst of wanting to strive for quality, I stumbled across the phrase “make every effort.” This has been my undercurrent for a couple of months. There are plenty of great verses to back up the idea of give-it-your-best. You’ve heard it before: work like it depends on you, but pray like it depends on God. #Makeeveryeffort puts some of the responsibility back on us. It’s a solid reminder that things like consistency, self-control, discipline, focus and vision all play a role in our outcomes. We are responsible for our habits, managing our emotions, making good choices and being mindful of our reactions. Yes, God is in control, but our level of living matters.

“Make every effort” is best applied when it’s coupled with God’s will for our life. When we know the character of God, it changes everything.

We feel empowered to go for ALL that He has for us! Try hard, yes- but put in your best effort from a place of trust in His plans and timing. Quality counts but what matters most is the Source!

You CAN do more than just finish! Quality matters; it empowers us to not just run the race, but run your best race! 🏃‍♀️ 🏃

I started training last week, but this time I am aiming to do a little more than just finish! I am going to run well!

#runyourbestrace

#onlygetonetimearound

#qualitycounts

It wasn’t wasted on me.

Last week I was blessed to attend a recruiting conference in sunny California. My company graciously covered the all the expenses. For those of us accustom to business travel, this is the norm, the expected, the common standard. Yet, I often -on purpose- find myself more aware and appreciative of what is being provided.

Several times I actually thought to myself, “This hotel is not wasted on me.”  Even though I felt like a little silly, like a country girl that doesn’t get out much I explored the hotel and the sights  around it. I took photos and felt joy.  

While travel can be routine due to frequency, I hope it is never ordinary or expected! I hope to never take for granted that someone else is paying the bill for what is available to experience and enjoy. 

Our conference hotel was extravagant. From the bay side location to the courtyard landscaping— pool and lounge areas, lighting fixtures, fancy food, and big city views! Even the basics were  over the top extravagant!

The fitness center was amazing! It was stacked with great equipment and machines, plenty of windows, mirrors, and open space…and even a group fitness room!  While there, I took full advantage of each. I used the equipment 3 times and I took 2 classes.

During conference breaks, I would dart outside to sit by the pool or a check email on a rooftop terrance. I enjoyed the waterfalls and fire pit, I ate the free apples, took a bubble bath and drank coffee in my room.

The details and perks; the beauty was not wasted on me.  

I experienced, enjoyed, and appreciated it all. (Well, except for the giant TV. I never turned it the during my stay!)

So why blog about it?

I promise, the point isn’t to over share about hotel accommodations, but rather to ask a question…

What has been provided to you?  What details of life have been laid out for you to enjoy? Who paid a price? Are you fully experiencing all there is? 

Some guests paid the exact same room rate, but never enjoyed the perks. It’s happens entirely too often.

When God created this world, He spared no expense and He covered every detail. This earth is extravagant; full of beauty.  Each new day it awakens with new adventure! Sunrise- sunset-beaches and mountains- dogwoods and dandelions- babies and thunderstorms …. life is such a gift!

God paid such a costly price when He sent Jesus to die for us. He paid it all and it’s  paid in full!

While it’s available for all, some don’t appreciate it!  Some don’t experience the fullness of life- and sadly, aren’t grateful to the One who paid for it.

Before conference started, I decided the best way I could honor the company who sent me was to attend every session, pay attention and apply what I learned.

Father, your gifts aren’t wasted on me. Jesus, your sacrifice isn’t wasted on me.  I want to honor you by remembering your sacrifice, being grateful for your detail and paying full attention to the beauty you provide!

The price has been paid in full….slow down and be grateful. 

…And also with you.

My dad and step mom are Catholic. That means over the years I have went to several masses. Actually,  for a while I filled in playing the organ.

Today as I was praying, I found myself repeating something I recognized as familiar from the Catholic Church.

Something I always enjoyed about their services was the prepared responses…. (Funny, as sporadic and unpredictable as I am, I appreciated knowing what to expect.) The structure of the service provided responses both to the Word of God and to prayer. Members knew what was coming and offered up wholehearted responses.

When I attended, a volunteer would read an assigned portion of scripture. After delivering the passage, he would close with the phrase, “The Word of the Lord,” and the congregation would respond: “Thanks be to God.”

As they offered up prayer requests, in unity, the entire body would respond. For example, they would repeat the prayer request, “For the lost and the hurting we pray …” and then echo: “Oh, Lord, hear our prayers.”

I’m a social girl, it’s no surprise so I also liked the part where everyone greeted each other, shook hands and hugged hello. In the Catholic Church the common greeting was: “The Lord be with you.” And the given response: “And also with you.”

I liked that. And it’s a good reminder that we have a role to play. It shows us how to respond to the Word of God, prayer and His people.

The Word of the Lord, Thanks be to God! Lets be actively grateful for the Word and all it brings into our lives.

When we pray, ask that the Lord would hear us! And be confident that He does!

In the Bible, letters to churches were often started with “Grace and Peace, be multipled unto you.” Let’s invite the Lord to be with us in our friendships.  He is our Enamnuel. He is ever-present help….The One who will never leave or forsake you.

5E817F73-558E-47E5-83DD-03C970DEC650The Lord be with you. May He bless you and keep you, cause His face to shine upon you.

We are focusing on gratitude at my home church. Today, I am grateful for the Word, prayer, friends… and what I can learn from different experiences.

 

 

The Momentum of Change.

Recently I was pushing my girls on swings at an incredible park in Tulsa. I have 3 girls, 12-11-9.  They are getting bigger, which means they are getting tougher to push. The days of easy underdogs are gone. Now I really have to work to get them going “faster and higher” like they always request.

96CA8FD1-4491-4B3C-892A-74AE8E086D07The first couple of pushes were awkward… the swings were coming back fast and heavy. Despite my best effort, from a braced standing position, I really wasn’t able to absorb their swing. I thought I was ready to push them forward, but instead, their momentum staggered me backwards. I recovered quickly, but had to push back twice as hard to give them that boost.

After a few medicore and not too effective pushes I  thought: just for fun, I’ll adopt the “price is right” method.

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As the swing came back…. I jumped with it! It took me up just a little bit, and then my weight and gravity made the down swing amazing! I landed and pulled the swing down with me, squatting into the push forward. Ta-da! We instantly found our groove! Their energy gave me energy and it was so much fun! Their momentum took me up and gravity brought us powerfully down. 

I didn’t realize it, but my friend captured a few pictures. When I looked at them today I had a flash back of me pushing the girls- enjoying the up momentum of their swing. It was such a sweet combination of working together. 

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The experience made me think about how differently people can react to momentum and change. Even if you see it coming, you want it to happen – how you react and interact with the change has an impact. Do you brace yourself for it? Are you determined to hold your ground and try to not stagger back as you absorb the impact? Do you stand firm and try to change direction without being moved? Maybe that approach feels like resistance, even though you didn’t mean for it to.  

It’s common to wait to embrace the momentum of change until it just right up pressing against you.  By then we are behind the curve and have to try twice as hard to push forward to adapt. 

Change is unavoidable. To stay relevant – the momentum and pace of life will likely always push us out of our comfort zone. What if you caught the momentum and just jumped with it? What if you threw your head back, laughed without fear of the future and just trusted the process? Can you trust the journey? The ups and down, the ebb and flow… what if you knew you weren’t really in control anyway, so you just jumped in fully to enjoy the ride. Is it possible? 

Maybe not all the time, maybe not in every circumstance – but when you can…. you should! I encourage you to embrace the pace of change and give it your best effort! Let your feet leave the ground and relax into it. Recognize that in order to move forward it may feel like you are going back. Trust that change may include compromise, or layers of process. Remember the beauty of the give and take, and expectant hope we can have in the waiting. Make every decision in alignment with where you ultimately want to go. But jump into it!! 

I hope to always be strong and healthy. I want to have the ability push the girls long after they quit wanting me to. But, I also recognize I can’t do it in my own strength. I will use momentum, timing, and the jump. I will let God use me in ways that may sweep my feet off the ground for just a moment. I will trust the rush and the risk of the ups and downs. I can try to turn loose of control and just enjoy the ride! I invite you to as well! #jump #momentum #workwiththechange

The Priority of Prayer.

25A0BD77-17D8-4075-9C7A-E5CCB4CCD4D9It sounds really basic. 

It is fundamental and foundational.

In the busyness of life, with just a few minutes, it feels like we should power-pack more Word, more worship, more books. Without intention, prayer gets pushed to the bottom of the list. 

I begin to pray thru my list, which usually includes others. Suddenly I am compelled to text them! “I just wanted to you know I was praying…” — I continue in prayer, once- twice- three times— and now multiple texting conversations have derailed my well-intended prayer time. 

Refocus.  Now I am praying for my girls. Wait, did I update the grocery list earlier? Was that the dryer buzzer?

This type of scenario plays out over and over- friendships, home life, church, work, ministry, blog… My mind is like an over active puppy! Feels like chasing squirrels and herding cats as I try to wrangle my prayer focus.

I do have to give myself a little grace — most of my “distractions” are actually really good things.  The intention and motive of my friendships and most of what is on my plate are pretty Godly.  Yet, even “good” can be out of balance.

My pace, love for service, draw to social connections and ministry mindsets are pulling me away from the feet of my Father. This lack of prayer is keeping me from the real power!

Here’s what I’m learning; it’s not the people or the distractions – it’s me.  I HAVE slowed down, I have learned to say no, I have laid down some expectations.  But, there is still a buzz inside my mind even when it’s quiet and I am all alone.

It’s the buzz of planning effective execution, it’s the satisfaction of production… it’s the crave to keep my life appearing to hum like a well-oiled machine. But then my spirit is quickened & I wonder when did I forget that prayer was actually the oil to keep that machine running?

Actually, I never forgot! Neither have you. We know the importance of real prayer. It’s not that I am too busy or distracted. The problem can be streamlined to this excuse: I didn’t rank prayer as a high enough priority!

When it feels impossible to balance what we deem ours to carry, then we are carrying too much. The juggling of weekly commitments, the desire to read and grow, to know the Word, to engage in worship, the satisfaction of a clean home and meals around the table….  all of those plates spinning are all good things!  

Yet I am disappointed to admit, prayer got pushed to the bottom of the private list. And I love prayer! (Now, it’s still priority on my public list. -ouch!) I pray with kids, for Jake, with friends, at church, life group! But public prayer can not replace personal private prayer.

I asked myself why prayer gets pushed back?… For me, it’s because prayer is the one of the few things that requires my singleness of mind and full attention. I can’t multitask prayer.  

I can listen to worship or a podcast, while driving, cooking, getting ready or doing laundry … I can read the Word and journal to feel like I accomplished something. But, when I pray, my mind is quiet. I slow down. Through prayer, the words of my mouth begin to lead my mind, shape my actions and adjust my emotions.

There’s so much power in prayer! 

It’s easier to fulfill our “Christian obligations” by doing all the other things. But right now, today,  prayer is more important. 

Martha-Mary- stop to pray!

When you’ve neglect prayer for too long— it’s time to correct alignment. Prayer is more important than acquiring more knowledge. Prayer is what will take knowledge and turn it into wisdom that takes action! Prayer is what exchanges the sermon for personal application. Prayer is what will change situations and shift prespectives. Prayer changes the  “I shoulds” into the “I wills.” 

We pile more knowledge, take more notes, and share more encouragement, but our heart aches for more.  

My reminder- and now yours: Todaydon’t forget to really pray!

We can start together: 

I’m praying for you! I pray that your pace would slow and your mind would quiet. I pray your heart would feel and your soul would pray …. 

Come along on the journey of a heart refined and guided by earnest prayer.

You are strong, but sometimes your strength is best demonstrated in weakness. Allow the Lord to minister to the quiet places of your heart.

We buzz and hum so loudly with work and production, accomplishment and progress…. You do it so well. You are a strong, beautiful, capable, productive, successful, independent woman!!

And yet, Lord, help our souls thirst for prayer. In the secret quiet places, Jesus we want more of You, restore our soul peace, align our hearts with your desires! Jesus help us to walk in Your freedom!

Prayer as a priority: it changes things!472AEEB6-8950-421D-8659-97BD9951089B

Suffering and discomfort.

 

I had a “minor procedure” done January 8th.  After multiple recommendations from my dentist, I decided to go ahead and schedule the surgery.  A friend joked that the only minor procedure is one that is done on someone else.  I laughed and thought – that won’t apply to me.  The surgeon advised I could experience some “minor bruising and facial swelling.”  I didn’t put much consideration into my recovery, I didn’t plan any time off work and had my normal full schedule of activities on my agenda.  I assumed I would bounce back and recover better than normal.  I planned to just keep marching. However, here we are 6 weeks laters, and I am still experiencing effects!

The procedure seemed relatively simple – I had a benign cyst on my face that need to be removed.  It wasn’t simple at all. The first few days following the surgery were VERY uncomfortable.  Beyond the MAJOR facial swelling, bruising, black eye and fever blisters… I also had to readjust my emotions. Every day I kept waking up with full expectation to feel better. My recovery just seemed to drag on and on. It was just really difficult.  I had to rearrange my schedule, I missed social gatherings, and frankly, I was embarrassed. Despite my nearly scientific make up skills, there was just no way to hide the numb unresponsive face and the bruised and swollen cheek.

I immediately wanted to write about the spiritual lessons found in pain and suffering. What a fun topic right?  A Sunday evening in January I actually spoke on the topic… Righteous Discomfort.  There are a couple of different things I was reminded of during the process.

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Suffering:

  1. It’s Expected, Arm yourself.  The worst part of my recovery is that I didn’t expect it –and wasn’t prepared. If my expectations hadn’t been so misguided, my experience may not have been such a disappointing shock.  The Word tells us to ARM ourselves and be prepared for the suffering.  If Christ had to endure it, why would we think we are above it? (I Peter 4:1-16)  When you buy your kid a bike, it’s likely that there will be a bike wreck.  When you expect a bike wreck, you teach your kids to wear a helmet.  Put on the full armor of God.  It’s not a shock, we can be aware. There will be suffering, don’t be so surprised.
  2. It’s Worth It, Be Obedient.  When He asks us to carry our cross, we can trust that He is good. “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.”  (Hebrews 12:2)  He had to endure 3 days of suffering and shame to give us an eternity of righteousness and healing.  It was worth it for him, and it’s worth it for us. “For these light and momentary troubles are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (II Corinthians 4:17)

The longer the suffering lasted, the less I wanted to write a blog. Why?

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Pre-surgery, I was having minor headaches, daily.  My dentist warned that by not removing, the continuous pressure would eventually shift my teeth and could deform my jaw line. Those were pretty good reasons to pursue corrective surgery. In the short term view, the 2-3 days of post surgery pain seemed to be a good trade.  Short term pain, long term gain.  But now? It has drug on too long, and  the extended suffering made me forget how miserable I was.  (Like the Israelites remembered Egypt differently after grumbling in the Wilderness) I forgot about the daily headaches, my memory faded, and now all I can think is… Why?  Because after 2-3 days turned into 2-3 weeks, and now into 2 months…. it just didn’t seem worth it anymore.  So, here is  one more:

3. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t see what you can’t see. We all could use a little dose of humility. God doesn’t owe us all the answers, explanations, or full disclosure. He is God.  We like to validate our experiences with lessons learned, milestones towards maturity, or bumps on the way to blessing.  But sometimes, we can’t figure it out and we can’t see the good.  It doesn’t mean God caused it or that the devil did it. We just experience hardship, period.   He may never tells me why. And yet He is God and I surrender.

The one thing that can always be clear: I didn’t experience it alone.

He is WITH me in my struggle. He is with you in your pain.  Duet 31:6.

More than stain removal …

I apparently gain a lot of people insight while cleaning the bathroom.  With a family of five and three full bathrooms; it’s probably safe to say I will keep learning.

Last week I spilled something on a rug, and I knew it would potentially stain. It didn’t happen at a time that was convenient for me to stop and do laundry.  I scooped it up and quickly pretreated my favorite rug with some stain remover.  My trusty stain removing gel quickly lifted the stain, and I went about the rest of my week.  Despite the stain being removed, the rug still didn’t make its way back to the bathroom, it stayed in the laundry room.  Saturday morning I ran it through the washer. The entire rug needed a good washing.

I promise this overly descriptive story is going somewhere…

How often do we stop and wash the rugs? I vacuum the rugs about every week, but if there had not been a spill, I probably wouldn’t have washed the entire thing.  I forgot how good they look…. fresh out of the dryer! Simple rugs brought a smile – all fluffy and clean – so fresh, it looked new!

It looked better coming out of the dryer than before the stain.

Exactly. There it is.

Too often, we quickly “pre-treat” our sin or our hurt… we know we need to carry it to the Father… we know we really need to deal with it… but, who has the time?! So we settle for a little stain remover, a little spot wash. It lifts the stain, but doesn’t really cleanse the whole body. Partial, but fully. Without taking time for the full wash, we may not find ourselves in the place of our best purpose. The rug was still a rug, but it was balled up on the floor of the laundry room, instead of being used for its intended purpose.

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i know it’s a silly story, but it can help you if you let it.  Pastor Hank once said… “to often we fight until we feel some relief instead of fighting until we get the total victory.”

That makes so much sense. I am currently working on going around a mountain that is too familiar. I have fought this battle before.  Last time I thought I won, but yet… here I am again. Perhaps I just went for the quick spot treatment. Maybe good enough was good enough.  Not this time! This time I want to really slow down and go through the entire cycle!

When the Word says, “And He shall wash you white as snow….”  I don’t think it means, He’ll dab a little to blot out the really noticeable parts. No, His intention is for the full removal of anything that looks like sin or feels like hurt. His plans are to separate it from east to west. He doesn’t give forgiveness as a thin dusting of snow where you can still see the blades of grass poking through. No, He will cover us with a fresh thick blanket of rich mercy and unmerited grace.

So, what are we waiting for? We need to experience the joy of repentance, the beauty of forgiveness, and the completion of redemption.

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Ready Receivers.

When Reagan was born it reset my body to beat alopecia. Between the pregnancy hormones, breast feeding, prenatal vitamins and the kick-me-into-labor dose of potosin, my body responded with rapid hair growth. After 12 weeks of maternity leave, I came back to work without a wig, and was sporting a short spiky, spunky new do.

At my three month check up, I jokingly told my doctor that he was going to need to set me up on a potosin drip so that I could keep my hair! People laugh, but honestly, I kept having kids, and the healthy cycle worked. I kept my hair!

My doctor let me know that my bright idea actually would not work. The body doesn’t receive potosin unless the cervix is effaced and ready for childbirth. The drug that is supposed to enduce and speed labor actually doesn’t do anything at all unless your body is ready for labor.

What a lesson.

How often are we begging for something we aren’t ready to receive. Or what about when blessings are sent our direction, but they are ineffective because we are not prepared to handle it.  Things rarely happen in a isolated vacuum. Life is interdependent. In order for something to accomplish it’s purpose, it’s likely going to be dependent on the fact that something else will have to be made ready.

Let’s get ready! Be ready! Live ready!

 

 

Each Sunday at church our pastor declares a blessing over us… do we receive it?

Heck, most people can’t even really receive a compliment! I can’t tell you the number of times a genuine compliment is deflected with a self-deprecating remark.

When I think about recievers, especially with the season our Chiefs have been having…. I get a visual of this! ECD3D15B-9921-465D-845C-51FD3FEBE82B

You have seen some amazing catches, and also witnessed some frustrating misses. It’s about timing, position, momentum, direction, and having your hands ready for the catch! The best receivers know it requires being at the right spot and running towards the expected pass, even before you can see it coming.  Receivers run downfield each and every time believing that the pass is coming straight to them.

It may be safe to say some of us are hoping to receive but aren’t running away from the ball!

We want the benefits of the potosin but yet we aren’t nine months pregnant and ready to have a baby!

God can send you blessings…. and I believe He does. But it’s possible – (if you aren’t a ready receiver) that they can slip thru your fingers. Let’s ask God to help us catch what life throws at us.

May we be positioned, ready to receive!

 

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