Be your own Boss.

My quiet morning coffee time has become an appreciated sweet start to the days of this season.

When I first got married, I was excited to have nice grown-up dishes. You know, the ones off the registry. I was proud of the square cut glasses and nice silverware, 8 plates, bowls, coffee cups and serving dishes that all matched.

I remember when someone first gave me a coffee mug, I think it sort of made me sad…. I felt sorry for the mug, “Oh,that’s nice, I like it, but it doesn’t match.” So up to the very top shelf it went, next to the Christmas mugs my mom gave me.

The collection of mismatched mugs continued to grow. While over time, some of my other dishes got chipped or broken. My silverware began to disappear at workplaces or school lunch boxes… life just happened.

Today, the matching set is rarely used. Rather than pride in the appearance of uniformity, I find myself drawn the the comfort of color, crazy and uniqueness.

So, I made a switch. I took all my boring coffee mugs and moved them up to the top shelf. I shifted my one-off, individually- gifted mismatched collection down to the preferred spot, and began enjoying them.

I love these mugs! When I use them I remember the person, place and time they were gifted to me.

It’s good to realize that sometimes what you think you want has changed, and it’s okay to make adjustment to support that. How it looks matters less than how it feels. I didn’t expect to prefer crazy cabinets full of different shapes, sizes and colors- but it’s a meaningful treasure I enjoy.

This one, “boss,” is actually the mug that inspired this blog. I was feeling a little sad, and I almost demoted it to the top shelf. This mug is from a past job, past employees, past success. I told myself I didn’t deserve that mug anymore, after all, I’m not a boss.

While the thoughts were still in my head, in the midst of the pity and attempted discouragement, I let the coffee cup preach to me.

Check out those words: insightful, visionary, dedicated, good listener, energetic, motivating, strategic, leader, empathetic, experienced.

I am or aspire to be all those things! Who wouldn’t? Since I’m not the boss, I will have to be my own boss. Perhaps I can lead best when I lead myself first.

Lead yourself well! Be your own boss, forget what it’s supposed to look like and embrace this crazy mismatched colorful life just as it is.

And if you are really lucky, your morning coffee cups can preaches to you 😀

This weeks it’s been: Hey there, pretty lady, choose joy, and be a good boss!

The Sword.

“I had laid down the sword & accepted defeat, on a battle I’d already won.

I had subconsciously settled for less than God’s best; but that’s not why God gave up His son.

Then somebody looked me straight in the eye and said: “Child, go pick up your sword.

The battle is won and the victory is yours, now you go and claim it in the name of the your Lord.”

So I put on my armor and I readied my hands for war.

I picked up my shield and my sword.

I went out and fought; He delivered my victory.

So, ready your hand, and you put on your armor.

You pick up your shield and your sword. You get back in your battle, you pick up the fight, and go claim it in the name of the your Lord.” 🎶

I wrote this song in 2002. It’s crazy that remember the lyrics and tune 18 years later.

When I moved to Joplin, I had a little one bedroom duplex. It was tiny; yet I made space for my piano. While I made friends quickly, the first few weeks of evenings were spent at my piano writing songs or poems.

From these lyrics, it sounds like I must have been in quite a struggle. It probably felt so important then. Yet, I can’t even remember it. The good news is, I’m still here so I guess I didn’t quit.

Pastor Hank’s latest sermon was on the sword. He talked about the importance of knowing how to handle the weapon. The sword represents the Word of God, which is meant to be active in our lives.

In the midst of this crazy season of uncertainty and constant change, remember what you know to be True.

Call to remembrance the Word of God that dwells richly inside of you. Constantly pour in more and stir up your faith. We are sustained by every Word. (Matthew 4:4)

“Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” Psalms 144:1-2

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you.” II Chronicles 20:17

Remember, when we speak the Word, He fights the battles. The Word is your sword, be sure you know how to wield it. True warriors train for war, engage in battle, and kill their enemy. Don’t let your sword be rusty or dull, sharpen it daily. ⚔️

Child, Go pick up your sword.

The Fog of War

After a long awkward pause, sometimes it’s hard to know what topic is good enough to break the silence.

Friends have checked in, wondering why I have stopped writing. It’s certainly not due to a lack of material. It seems the best lessons come in the middle of challenges. And we’ve all got plenty.

But I also think there’s a commonality in human nature that tells us we can’t share our experiences until they are a little more clean and tidy…As if no one will benefit from our life lessons until they make more sense; until there is clarity and a happy ending. Well, I just don’t think that’s the best answer for me.

Writing challenges me.

It causes me to find something to learn. It pushes me to make sense of the senseless. It may not be near and tidy for a while, but I can still choose to learn right now.

Does the construction of a light house have to be complete in order for the light to shine? It’s purpose can be effective even before completion. If I waited until things were perfect, it’s possible that nearby ships would crash into the shorelines. The same is true for you. If you can save me from misstepping, don’t wait! Let’s share our experience and help one another avoid pain!

It reminds me of concept I have recently read centered around VUCA and the Fog of War.

I’ll share the acronym:

VUCA –

Volatile

Uncertain

Complex

Ambiguous

Take a minute to consider their meaning; read the definitions. VUCA was a term that originated in the US Army. It was used to describe the conditions of the Cold War. Beyond fighting their enemy, the environment created more hardship. Their battle wasn’t effective, but it wasn’t necessarily because the enemy was winning. They were losing to the “fog of war.” The battle created a necessity to change strategy. What they knew to do suddenly didn’t work anymore.

Today, VUCA also describes life, business, and some relationships… Unstable, full of change, instability, disruptions, distractions and obstacles. These conditions compound and make things really unclear and confusing. VUCA- it’s real, but don’t let it paralyze you!

If you are spinning out in the foggy chaos, getting your tail kicked by circumstances and variables — maybe you’d like to start doing things directly?

Perhaps we could change our approach. Redefine our environment.

Let’s look again, here another way to spell it out… VUCA

Vision

Understanding

Clarity

Agility

Aww, that suits me much better.

If you are experiencing the fog of war, get wisdom. How do you get wisdom? Ask God.

In the coming blogs, I’ll better describe vision, understanding, clarity and agility – stay tuned! We’ve all got our own Cold War to win.

Failure is an option.

Let me tell you about my latest failure…

Ha! How’s that for a hook line. In times when most of us usually lead with our best foot forward, I wanted to take a minute and share my failure.

I learn so much from nature, fitness, and difficult situations- and this story has all three!

In November, I will be participating in a 1/2 marathon… the event is only 8 short weeks away, which means it’s go-time for late night and early morning pavement time.

This summer, I accidentally quit running. Go ahead and smirk, it’s ok. “How do you accidentally quit?” Well, you just don’t on-purpose keep doing what you know to do.

In July, we had our women’s conference, and I was busy. Plain and simple. I didn’t make time. — Then the week after I was sick…. and then the week after that, I was…. hmm, not sure- but 4 weeks went by. I was still exercising, but now I had a mental block. Because I hadn’t run; I assumed I couldn’t run.

Then, on August 20th, I ran. I had finished a 5am walk with my prayer buddies. My muscles were warmed up and I had 25 minutes to spare. I got in just over 2 miles. It felt great, my legs remembered, my lungs remembered, and I was encouraged.

I decided to get back on the wagon. The following evening I ran 4 miles, and then a couple days later 5 miles… and now, I am feeling confident and ready to be consistent with my training program.

👊🏼 🏃‍♀️ 👟

And here is the failure part…

Saturday morning, I went for a run, and it was a miserable mess. I didn’t get out of the house until 10:30am. It was hot and sunny, I was tired. I stopped to walk, dang it! I walked a little, then I ran some more. But then nope, I walked again. And that’s how the rest of the 6 mile route went… and it was such a bummer.

From this failure- here is what I learned

If quitting is an option, every option to quit looks good.

Out on a hot gravel road, the itchy grass was tempting as a place to stop and sit down. An abandoned metal seated tractor looked appealing, a hammock was inviting, and I even thought about jumping in the air conditioned cab of a utility worker’s truck while he was up in the bucket!

All those options obviously would have been poor choices. They would not have resulted in relief. And if I did get relief, I still would have had to walk the rest of the way home! My mind was thinking about my hot feet, my tired legs, and my thirst! My mind was so focused on quitting, that with every step I saw new opportunity to give up.

Plan A only fails because there is a Plan B.

When you think about quitting, don’t be deceived or distracted by short-term, temporary options. Quitting doesn’t actually work.

About a mile from home, I started thinking about writing this blog. I wanted the story to have a better ending. Literally, that is what fueled my finish. The last 6 blocks to home were mine to run. I finished well when I decided to change the narrative. I ran when I decided not to walk anymore. Maybe it’s not that simple, but then maybe it is. If failure is an option it will be.

“Sometimes the best way not to fail is simply to not quit.”

#burntheboat (look up that reference!)

#quittingcausesmisery

#noreliefexceptthruvictory

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.

C2CD4904-08F7-4DA8-8220-7F48998C7AAE

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. 

2A662159-5258-4447-BFFC-83BBC5B27967

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

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑