Blind Date

I went on a blind date this week.

of sorts.

Well, kind of.

Actually it wasn’t a blind date in the traditional – 2 people meeting to discover if they may be compatible because their mutual friends think they would be- blind date. But it was with people, three actually, that I didn’t know and we were meeting for the first time. On a specific time on a calendar – thus appropriately falling into the category of both blind and date.

We were set up by someone that thought we would get along because of shared interests. We had emailed a few times before our meeting. I didn’t know where they lived or what they looked like. I didn’t know their age or what they did for a living. Felt pretty blind to me.

I woke up on the morning of our date feeling excited and nervous. We would be meeting on ZOOM because Covid and well – we do live in four different states. Our date was set for 10 a.m. so I had time to exercise and get some work done before we would all pop on each others screens. I prayed for peace and wisdom to discern if this was a good match. I wondered if this is what it always feels like before a blind date.

At promptly 10 am CST three new to me faces popped on my screen along side mine. We were off to a good start – we all showed up! Our eager smiles held the same look of anticipation. It seemed as if we all wanted to discover that the others wanted this new relationship as much as we each personally did. We spent 30 minutes sharing our brief stories of work and family with the bulk of our time focused on the one thing that had brought us all together …..

the love of writing.

In December we each had made a commitment to be more intentional about our craft by joining a larger community of women made up of future writes, podcasters and speakers. When the opportunity arose to join a smaller community within the bigger for more accountability we each said “Sign me up!” We each listened to the still small voice that said ‘ go, do something more, be vulnerable, stretch!’ Can I tell you that hanging out with people like that is pretty fantastic?

When I started my business 17 years ago I was told that you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with- choose your friends wisely. This thought emphasizes the power of your circle both for good or for bad. I have a runner friend who says the best way she can increase her speed is to simply run with people faster than her. Bottom line – the people you hang out with can greatly impact the trajectory of your life. The funny thing is – we know this to be true for children. Parents pray for good friends, they don’t want their children running with the ‘wrong crowd’. Protective fathers will run a potential suitor for their daughters through a gauntlet of questions to confirm they are good enough. There is a great deal of time and effort put into helping our children find the right people because we know the power of the five. Today I’m going to suggest that we revisit this idea…

as adults.

I have an exercise I do with my team that has them list their people. The ones that have a say in their lives. The ones they work with, recreate with, live with. Next to each name they are to draw one of three symbols. Smiley face for those that fill them up. When these people leave their space they are encouraged. Sad face for those that bring them down. When they spend time with them they feel worse and notice less than stellar behavior. When I was first introduced to this idea I realized I had a small group of friends that spent their time bashing their husbands. Our play groups or lunch dates were filled with rants over what our husbands did or did not do. I’d find myself coming home from those situations feeling mad at my husband – even though he had done absolutely nothing wrong. The last symbol is a straight line – or neutral.

This always brings surprise to those that choose to honestly look at their tribe. For some it is encouraging. For others it is enlightening as they recognize the power of those around them. For still others it is distressing when they allow themselves to see the level of toxic behavior in the people closest to them. It provides an opportunity to make choices on how one spends ones time. There have been times when I’ve done this assessment over my life and I’ve realized I need a few more voices of people that look at things from a different perspective. I can get in a rut of how I think the world should be run. Looking at a situation from another angle can expand a much needed view of the world or it can confirm my original thought. The process of challenging our beliefs can give them deeper roots which brings confidence and peace. It’s a healthy and important practice.

When we look in scripture we see this idea confirmed. Abraham believed this when he sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac from among a God-fearing people. Isaac knew this when he sent Jacob to do the same. Your people, my people they make a difference.

So… my blind date. It went pretty well. By the end of our 30 minutes we had delegated responsibilities on which forms of media we would use to stay connected. In just the first few days of knowing each other we have decided to trust each other with our own need for accountability. I am reminded of the power of choosing your tribe wisely. When you invest and allow yourself to be invested by people of excellence you can’t help but get better. The very reason this blog is being written is because I told this group of friends that I was going to do it. Taking 30 seconds to leave a quick voice message asking for accountability is the one and only reason I looked for a time to write.

Three smiley faces for this crew.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

My daughters tribe – diverse, colorful, supportive.

Tired Arms

“When Moses arms grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other- so that his hands remained steady til sunset.” Exodus 17:12

My husband has a workout he does occassionaley called “The 100 pull up workout.”

It’s pretty simple – he goes over to our high school gym and does…

100 pull ups.

Now I love to exercise but even if my life or my children’s lives depended on it – I couldn’t do 100 pull ups. In grade school the girls would have a test for those presidential fitness awards ( the most stressful part of my elementary school experience) called the ” Arm Hang.” You essentially hung on to a bar, arms bent to keep your chin above the bar, for as long as possible. I think I maxed out at about 3 seconds. I’m not kidding. If only a couple of my friends were allowed to stand under my body and support my floppy tri – ceps. My upper body strength leaves something to be desired. This is not a slam on myself – just a fact with which I am perfectly happy to live.

The history of the Israelites records an account of a battle between Israel and the Amalekites. Moses is attempting to lead a bunch of people through a barren land to get to a promised space full of milk and honey. (hmmm.. wonder if they had discovered the honey oat milk latte… my new favorite coffee treat..) As the attack ensues Moses commands his right hand man, Joshua, to go and fight.

“Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands. So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up- one on one side , one on the other – so that his hands remained steady until sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. ” Exodus 17: 9-12

Moses – competent leader of many. Moses a man who talked to God face to face. Moses strong, powerful, wise….. could not carry out his calling alone. In this account we see a man physically exhausted, arms shaking and in what may be one of his wisest moments of his life, accepted the support of his friends. Aaron and Hur have joined Moses on the hill and when it becomes clear their leader needs support – they swoop in , provide a rock to sit and literally hold Moses arms up for the duration of the battle. Moses doesn’t push them away letting pride get the best of him. We see no struggle, no “I got this” just a man willing to receive the much needed assistance from two people he trusted the most. His ability to admit his personal limitations lead to the saving of thousands of Israelite lives. The battle was won because he stayed obedient to the direction God had given – even if it meant humbling himself to identify he was at the end of his personal rope.

Yesterday – my arms were tired. I bet yours may have been as well. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a season of life where I have known SO many that have had SO much with which they are struggling. The private battles happening in the homes of people I love are real and hard and dang it….

heavy.

And we cannot keep trying to carry the burdens alone.

I am incredibly blessed to have an inner circle posse. An Aaron and Hur if you will that I know will swoop in and hold up my arms. They are faithful, present and continually remind me of God’s promises, power and provision. I hope that I have been that for them as well. When I reached out to them yesterday morning… they did what they do best and held my arms. It took about 10 minutes of voxer messages back and forth and I felt the shaking stop. My triceps relaxed, peace entered my body and the victory march began. The challenges didn’t disappear but the day was won.

How are your arms doing today? Are you in need of a little relief? Is the shaking beginning to wear you down? Friends – I beg you ….

Pay attention.

We were NOT wired to walk out this life alone. There are passages all over scripture that proclaim this truth. Our sometimes stubborn, pride filled selves can be our greatest enemy. Our independence is serving no one.

I hated those days sitting on a cold gym floor awaiting my turn on the arm hang. It was lonely and intimidating. How I needed an Aaron and Hur. The good news is – the gym floor days are over… I’ll never take another presidential fitness test again. And my weak, floppy arms …. they are ready and eager for the strength of my faithful friends.

Are yours?

100 pull up workouts help when moving adult children!

21

My feet moved my body down the long corridor from sheer muscle memory. Walks down hospital hallways were ones that had become the norm in the year prior to this day. The beeping of machines, the whispers of nurses, the rolling wheels of carts and patient transport beds.. all of it… felt like home…

in the worst kind of way.

My friend stood waiting for me, alone and distraught, her frame highlighted by the EXIT sign on the door behind her. Her eyes said “make this all go away, tell me this is all just a bad dream.” She trusted me because of the similar path I had walked and her hope was that her ending would be the same as mine. Earlier that day her 14 year old son had been involved in a bike/car accident. He had left their home on a beautiful fall day to ref a youth soccer game. He did not survive the hit from the car making a turn too early. His future that looked so bright had come to an end.

A year prior our 7 year old son was lying in a hospital bed. Hit with a different kind of health crises. A mystery illness that left him paralyzed from the neck down, unable to eat, speak or move. We received no answers from the multitude of tests administered. We hung on to the hope of our God that heals and answers and provides. We talked of the party we would throw when he was healed. We knew that when he was able to talk again he would have so much to say. Every prayer we prayed was answered- not always in the timing or way we would have hoped but ultimately our son was healed. In our family he is literally ‘the boy that lived.’ This son, our only son…the one with a heart of compassion for the down and out, the game loving, poetry writing, hard working, college junior, our son… who next week will turn…

21.

Something feels significant about this birthday something that causes me to pause as I look back over my years of parenting not only my son but all three of my children. I would never wish for a parent to experience what we did or my friend for that matter. The pain we felt as we watched the unexplained suffering of our child at moments felt like it would wreck me. I do wish though for all of us that we would have the gift that came from that season.

PERSPECTIVE:

Brevity of life – I thought I understood this but this time taught me to own this truth. We are not promised any day given and each one is truly a gift.

Everyone has a story. Living on the pediatric floor of a hospital for a month introduced me to all kinds of childhood struggles. Rooms full of children battling their own monsters.

I’m not in control: As much as I worked to keep my children safe, this little mystery illness snuck right into our home like a bad cold in winter. No warning, no reason, no nothing – not even a national pandemic. He just got sick – really sick.

I can control some things: I learned to focus on what I could do. Pray. Turn off the noise. Seek God in everything. Sleep, shower and show up for my son. Communicate with my husband. Create a routine for our girls. Accept help in every from from anyone who offered – no shame.

God can take it. I mean God can really take us… the real us, the angry at our situation us, the “why are you not fixing this now God” us. I discovered the more real I was with God the more real he was with me.

God is faithful. Recently a bible teacher shared these peace giving words.

“Every life stage and phase will bring its own brand of challenges that build our faith. Without tests of our faith, we do not fully experience God’s faithfulness. Unless you know how desperately you need God, human understanding and solutions still look appealing. My trust in God goes the deepest when I trust him with the people and dreams that have a hold on my heart. God can be trusted with everything, especially with what I value the most.” BSF Lesson 24 notes.

21.

14 years more than we thought we might have. 14 more years of growing and trusting and releasing control of a life God entrusted us to raise. 14 years of life lessons that have served me through the twists and turns of life. God has not wasted one hurt or one tear or one disappointment. Our season with our son prepared me for the walk I took with my friend. Her journey has not been the same as ours. Her prayers for healing were answered with the eternal victory we have when we die in Christ. Her sweet son has enjoyed 13 years in the presence of his Savior. She once said as much as she wanted him back he would probably be mad if he had to live out the crazy of the world in which we live. Perspective – a powerful thing.

It seems my list of friends with life trials grows longer by the day. I just have to look out my window at the surrounding houses to remember the issues that many of my loved ones are enduring. In the face of these current circumstances I pray and I praise and I remember. I look back on my seasons of hard and remember the gift of perspective I’ve been given. I celebrate each lesson, each provision each answer.

And today… and all week… I celebrate my son. The one that teaches me about perseverance, and love for all people, and boldly living out a life of faith in Jesus. The one that is always ready to play a game, go for a walk, lend a hand. The one that introduced me to all things boy, and swing dancing and CATAN. I’ve loved every one of the 21 years I’ve had with you Jonah and I will thank God for everyone he blesses us with in the future.

Happy Birthday Week.

I love you, Mom.

Ice Cream; Jonah’s love language:) Happy 21!

Saturday Bagels

“Ready, Set, GO!”

Just like that our two oldest were racing to the end of the paved patio and back to the table where Tom and I sat, our baby on the ground in the car seat between us. It was a beautiful fall Saturday and we were enjoying a family rhythm we enjoyed in that sweet season of life. Without fail, each Saturday we would pack up the kids and head to our local Panera where we would enjoy a breakfast of carbs and caffeine. We unpacked the gear that a family with three littles travels with ( even if it’s just 2 miles down the road) at a table in the outside seating area. Happy, foot tapping music played over the outside speakers often inspiring our children to dance and run. That hour or so we spent indulging in good food and fellowship with our family of five is time I consider not only a fun memory but an incredibly wise and important investment of time. To this day my absolute favorite moments in life are when our fam of five – now 6 with the addition of our bonus son, husband to our oldest, are together.

I recently learned that the two most important characteristics of a strong and healthy organization are :

Safety and Connection.

Makes sense doesn’t it? Think of the places you land each day: home, work, church, clubs, places you volunteer. I’m guessing the places you love the most – make you feel

1. Safe and

2. Connected to the others you are with and to the organization.

What a challenge we all face now as we look at the events of this last week in our world. The two areas in our everyday lives that were attacked –

  1. Our feelings of Safety.
  2. Our connection with others – often times people we have known and loved our entire lives.

On top of the disturbing pictures we saw of the activity on our countries capital were the conversations people were willing to have on public platforms about their opinions of these actions. I witnessed friends and family post and accuse and then be offended when someone did not agree and then continue the back and forth publicly. Small sparks were happening all over social media – some growing to raging fires that I pray will someday be extinguished. As I willingly chose to view these conversations I was taken back to my very first ” Big Girl Conversation.” It was the first time in my life that I remember sitting down with someone, face to face, toe to toe, knee to knee, that I did not agree with. I was so nervous and uncomfortable about our appointment I almost cancelled. I had functioned through all 33 years of my life simply not dealing with conflict. I’d sweep things under the rug, turn the other cheek and live with the bitterness and resentment that follows such actions.

This time. This time was different. I made a decision to show up and face the person and issue head on, like an adult. Let me rephrase – like a healthy adult. The relationship I shared with this person was professional. We shared rented building space that was the base for each our home based businesses. We had served side by side and I respected her wisdom in many areas. But…. we had come to a disagreement and it became clear that a conversation was needed. I categorize this moment as defining. I can still remember what I wore, the smell of the coffee shop where we met and the peace I felt as I sat down across the table from my friend. We had both chosen to show up with the intent to first, listen to each other. Second, repeat what we felt we heard and third, willing to ask permission before we shared our idea for a solution. In those moments of feeling heard, desiring to hear and healthy back and forth I learned the power of healthy confrontation. It had moments that were uncomfortable. There were times that comments were made that attempted to trigger words I knew I would later regret if spoken. We pressed in together in the muddy waters of disagreement and came to a solution. It was better than either of us could come up with on our own. The bitterness I walked in with drained like the coffee from our cups. It was a freedom I quite honestly had never felt before in a relationship outside of my husband. Sharing our truths with those we disagree with can be the starting point for new perspectives, deeper trust and healthier relationships moving forward. The lesson I learned that day has served me well for the last 18 years. When I feel a conflict rising between myself and anyone – I hunger for conversation. I’ve seen the magic that happens when the light of sharing our true selves is shone.

As I’ve pondered my response and responsibility to the current state of our nation my mind floats back to my Saturdays at Panera. The times when our family felt :

  1. Safe
  2. Connected.

This is the space where I will start. How are those closest to me doing? How are we each interpreting the actions of those around us? What conversations will be helpful for us as we continue to foster safe, connected space? Like rings on a target, with my family and relationship with God in the center, I’ll move out to check on others in order of my influence and responsibility. It can be a hard and uncomfortable task…. sometimes, many times it just feels easier to hop on a social media platform and vomit all the yuck thats inside. From my experience this week, it doesn’t appear to work. The stench still lingers.

As I pray for our nation today I begin with a prayer of personal repentance. I ask for a window into the conversations I need to have and a desire to first listen, second listen and third listen some more. I want to pull up my chair to the table… face to face, toe to toe, knee to knee…. and I invite you to pull up a chair as well. As we begin to invest in the hard conversations with the people closest to us…. I believe the peace we are seeking will manifest. Jesus modeled this for us all throughout scripture – He engaged in open, honest, hard conversations. He listened and he lingered and he spoke truth in love. Let him be our guide, seek his presence and his wisdom. Trust that he is the healer of all things, including relationships with those we love most.

Saturday – a day for strong coffee, good carbs, deep breaths after a week of hard. Pour a second cup today …. follow the Lords leading to the conversations he wants you to have….

and let the healing begin.

Hiking with our fam of 6. Colorado Springs, CO Nov 2020.

CHRISTMASTIDE Day 12: Suit up, Show up

God has never asked for my advice. Not once. This is so surprising because I’m so eager to give it to him. ( wink). I bet if you’re honest – you are too.

I have thoughts on the places I’d like my adult children to live. I have ideas on who should be elected to public office. I have suggestions for the timing of the challenges in my life. I’m not opposed to them – I just need them to come when I’m good and ready and they won’t make me too uncomfortable. Oh my.

It’s our last day of Christmastide – the 12th day of Christmas. My goal in this season was to wrap up one year and move boldly into the next finding reasons to rejoice. Each day God showed me that there is plenty to celebrate if I stop long enough to really see. He is so good to show us so much.

Today – today may feel a bit harsh. It’s the day when I’ll share some marching orders, some God direction for our next steps. Tough love of sorts – still love but tough. You know – the love that hurts so good. The love motivated by a genuine concern for whats best for us, desiring that we don’t just coast through life but boldly move in the direction of God’s calling. The direction that causes us and many to say “Who me?”

You know…

Like Moses at the burning bush.

Like Abraham and Sarah at the news they would be parents in their old age.

Like Gideon when asked to lead an army of 300 against an army of thousands.

Like the woman at the well.

Like the woman caught in adltry.

“Who me?”

All through scripture God calls the unequipped and equips them.

All through scripture God invites the least of these to some of the greatest acts of faith ever recorded. And today, my friend, he’s calling you.

I believe 2020 was a training ground. It was a daily workout plan for which we did not willingly enroll. I truly believe it was preparation for what is to come. We are stronger, braver, more resilient, flexible, ready for the reality that our hope can never rest in worldly idols, ever again. It’s time for us to Show up and Suit up. God has plans for you and for me.

Proverbs is a book of the bible you don’t want to flip to lightly. The words are tough and many times hit too close to home. For example:

Proverbs 6:6-11 The Message

You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely, let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food, at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to lay around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back , take it easy – do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt poor life, poverty your permanent house guest.

OUCH.

FRIENDS – It’s time to Suit up and Show up.

This last Saturday I participated in a 6 hour workshop ….

on ZOOM.

Like the rest of the world, a conference that I had attended for 17 years in person, with hundreds of others, moved to the only option we have right now… virtual. No one would see me that day except my family and my cat and my dog. My plan was to shower, put on some yoga pants and snuggle in for the day. And then I heard a whisper – “Suit up and Show up.”

In my world, the woman in leadership have a uniform. It is a beautiful suit designed specifically for the top 2% of the company that are responsible for leading the sales force. I love it. I look forward to the arrival of a new one each spring. I love shopping for new shoes and accessories. I love my suit. When I put it on it feels like superman in the telephone booth. Stay at home mom during the day – super woman leader of many by night. I realized Saturday that the 2020 suit that was set to launch in July of 2020 was hanging patiently in my closet – well at least the skirt was. For the last 8 months I’ve half showed up – physically that is. I’ve donned the top part of my suit for ZOOM events but not the bottom ( No one can see me from the waist down – so why bother?) But Saturday, the day of a 6 hour Zoom, I heard Suit up, Show up, ALL OF YOU.

Even they nylons?

Yes – even they nylons.

Sigh.

So I did. I moved into prep mode. Showered, applied my make up and curled my hair. I picked out my jewelry and even wrestled on my nylons buried deep in my sock drawer. And as I did the craziest thing happened. I felt myself waking up. I felt my excitement for the day growing. I felt my mind shift from being kind of “In” to all the way. I hadn’t felt that way in a very long time. The practice of Suiting up and Showing up was powerful. I spoke a message to myself that I would no longer allow the pandemic of 2020 to lower my bar of excellence. I would take the lessons learned in the yoga pants of 2020 to fully embrace the stage of 2021. Like an athlete that moves from practice gear to game day uniform. Like a dancer that moves from rehearsal clothes to opening night costume and full make up – I’m ready to show up and suit up for this next season. I believe you are too.

Friends – hear my heart. 2020 was hard and the flip to 2021 has not quick fixed the questions and challenges that still linger. Today I await the MRI results for a family member which will disclose the severity of a recent breast cancer diagnosis. Hard indeed. There are days that simply getting out of bed is a victory – and I applaud each of us as we continue to do the best with what we have. BUT I can’t deny the nudge I got last weekend – the one I believe was from my God that called me higher. He knows full well what we are in and he also reminds us that we are part of, the only plan for sharing His truths with the world. This is no small task. Sharing light in the darkness is growing increasingly more difficult. It is not for the faint of heart but hearts are fainting from a lack of knowing the true source or our peace and power – The Love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God needs us to Suit up and Show up – all of us – head to toe. Today. Right this minute. Now.

I don’t know what suiting up and showing up means in your world but I’m pretty sure you do. Like the ant, if we’re honest, we can admit it’s not from a lack of knowing what to do, it is from a lack of believing the God who promises to equip the called. He isn’t coming asking us for ideas or opinions on the plan for our lives but he is asking us to Show up to suit up. It’s a humbling honor to recognize that he is eagerly waiting for each of us to present ourselves to Him ready for duty.

My Suit is on. I’m Showing up today. I’m expectant and ready to walk this New Year out in God confidence. I’d love to have you join me. The world is waiting. Our God is waiting….

and for this I rejoice.

Suited up and ready for. 6 hour virtual event.

CHRISTMASTIDE Day 11: Take It

Arms feeling a little lighter today? Mind, Soul, Emotions feeling the freedom that comes when you drop some junk? If not – go back a read yesterdays post – “Leave it.” You may, like me, need to be reminded of the Day 10 message throughout this year. It’s hard to leave toxic habits and thought processes behind – but its so worth it. Why? Because today, today we get to do some shopping – and we need hands wide open – possibly lifted up, eager to receive.

I’ve read quite a few articles and listened to numerous podcasts where the speaker encourages people to look at the gifts of 2020. What new skills did we learn as a result of needing to pivot in our businesses? What were we able to do as families because of the increased time we all had together? What new hobbies did we acquire – can you say sourdough? It is a healthy practice and one that can remind us of the power of growth that only happens in hard times. We have much we can take with us into the New Year. I believe if you look hard enough you will notice a full shopping cart overflowing with blessings. Today I want you to imagine though that you can only take one new gift into 2021. You try to click the purchase button and an error message pops up on your screen – ” Too many items – please remove.”

I love how 2020 evened the playing field. Not one person, in any field of business, medicine, education, government knew what to do. Not one. Me included. For those of us in leadership positions we were scrambling to know what to tell our people. I personally am responsible for coaching 150 entrepreneurs around the country. I felt overwhelmed with the task of guiding this crew through these muddy waters. It became very clear, very quickly that I was going to need to prove what I’ve said I believe all along “Seek God first, trust his wisdom, he will never leave me or forsake me.” I had to answer the question – What do I really BELIEVE about God and his ability to give me what I need – NOW? I didn’t need assurance of my eternal salvation – I needed a God of Moses in the Desert – leading with a cloud by day and fire by night. I needed a God that would give me daily direction on very specific questions relating to my business and those I’ve been called to lead. When I looked to my right and to my left I saw confusion – the only place to look – the only place I found real peace and answers was UP. The gift, the greatest, given to me, proven to me daily – was the gift of BELIEF. Not in me, or my peers, or any earthy leader. 2020 reminded me of the power of Believing God. Not IN God – but believing HIM.

Believing God.

Believing He is who he says he is.

Believing He can do what he says he can do.

Believing I am who he says I am.

Each day I woke up waving a white flag of surrender as I was faced with new rules, changes, questions. My belief that I could plan and goal set through the pandemic was washed away. My belief that I could google search my way to the answers I needed – nope. My shopping cart of solutions – empty- except one,

Belief. Specifically,

Believe God.

What if we woke each day of 2021 with the words “I believe you God” on our hearts and lips.

What if in the middle of the cancer battle we professed, “I believe you God”

What if at the end of an exhausting day of homeschooling, while working and running a house hold we cried, “I believe you God.”

What if in the labor and delivery room, the wedding celebration, the graduations, the job promotions we shouted “I believe you God.”

What if …. fill in the blank of the joys and challenges of your life… you chose to Believe God.

The truth is … it’s the most important work you’ll do and the one thing God asks of us

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29

I’m standing in the checkout lane of 2020, cart filled with the one most important item the greatest gift, belief. Don’t worry though, there is plenty left. Go check your 2020 – look for the places God showed up in very real and practical ways. Look for the times he proved you could believe Him. Ask him to show you. Write them down, create your own belief track record. He offers the gift of faith to all that ask and believe and to this I say “I’ll Take it”

and for this I Rejoice.

Believing God as I step onto the path marked “2021”

CHRISTMASTIDE Day 10: Leave it

Philippians 3:13-14

“Brothers and Sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Her most open time for conversation is when she is walking her dog. Her energetic, must have a walk to get out his energy or he’ll destroy the house, dog. This pup is sweet, loyal, loving and a bit insane. I get a glimpse into the neurosis of this animal each time I talk to my sister, when she his walking him, and we are on the phone. She lives in Seattle, is a busy working mom of 2 teenagers. There is a 2 hour time difference in our worlds so the windows of time when we can actually have a conversation feel small. This dog walking time seems to work best.

One of the fascinating traits of Toby, the crazy dog, is that his memory is short. Hmm… his memory is short or his ability to discern what is really bad for him, could actually kill him, is non existent. let me explan.

As my sister is walking her tornado on a leash pup ( I know, I’ve walked him) she is regularly repeating one simple phrase,

“Toby, leave it.”

TOBY.. leave it.

TOBY.

LEAVE.

IT.

This dog eats everything.

Every. dang. thing.

If she didn’t stop him from inhaling every loose item on their walk through their Seattle neighbor hood I believe he would wind up on the side of the road , stomach bloated from too much of too many bad things. He just cannot control himself. The first time I walked him my sister said – ” Don’t be afraid to be firm – he needs it.”

Sometimes I feel like Toby. I totally disregard the lack necessity of something in my life and just dive right in. I jump into traffic jams of life when I didn’t even need to be in my car in the first place. I continue habits and thought processes that do not line up with the plans and thoughts God has for and about me. As I charge into 2021 there are some things I really need to leave behind. I made a list – are you surprised?

Here are just a few that I’m willing to share:

Striving

Control ( of everything!)

Bitterness

Fear

Jealousy

Each of these have stories connected to them that don’t need to be shared here but between me and my God that is asking me to Leave them. He is the one that brought them to my attention and he is the one that regularly commands me to drop them – now. He knows what 2021 will bring and he knows what will not serve me well on the path he has marked out for my life.

What do you need to leave? What habit or thought needs to be dropped like a disgusting piece of garbage my sisters dog has found on the side of the road? The beautiful thing about leaving things, dropping them out of our arms and our lives…. is that it creates room to pick up what is really good, beautiful and powerful. More on that tomorrow.

Today I made my list of things I’ll drop as I re-enter 2021. There is room on the pile for yours…

and for this I rejoice.

Vacationing with my sisters family in South Carolina – no dogs allowed!

CHRISTMASTIDE: Day 9 Dance

A DAVID PSALM, AFTER HE WAS CONFRONTED BY NATHAN ABOUT THE AFFAIR WITH BATHSHEBA

PSALM 51: 4-8 The Message

“God – You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then, conceive a new, true life. Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to…..

DANCING.”

Game playing. Hiking. Traveling. Going out to Eat. Watching movies. Dancing. These are a few of the things our family enjoys doing together. It really isn’t a surprise. When I look back on my offsprings childhood I realize we raised them on these things. All the things on our FUN list have been a part of their world from conception on – including Dancing. Interestingly – our son – who has a particular interest in Swing dancing was newly forming in the womb when Tom and I took Swing dance lessons. He was born to dance. One of my favorite family pictures is from a wedding when my children were little – on the dance floor. It hangs above my desk and reminds me of the Joy we share when we are together and we are dancing.

This last weekend the wedding of my niece provided an opportunity to enjoy some dance time together. There we were, Tom and I, our three children and my son in law – all in a circle on the dance floor. I took a quick video to document the moment where all worries seem to be forgotten, freedom from opinions gone ( we were one of two families on the dance floor and nobody seemed to care) and Joy was the overriding emotion. Everyone had their own moves and interpretation of the music. When one song ended we eagerly awaited the next in hopes it would be another “foot – tapper” as David refers to good music in the Psalm referenced above.

A Christmas Wedding

As I was reading through this Psalm today you can imagine how thrilled I was to see David use the term dancing. He was crying out to the Lord for forgiveness for adultery and murder. Kind of big deal sins. Once confronted with the severity of his actions by his friend Nathan he immediately moves to repentance. He confesses the reality that he has been sinful since birth and that he was deserving of whatever punishment God saw fit. But then he boldly asks for more…. his belief in his all powerful and all loving God leads him to ask for total freedom from his guilt and shame. He wants to walk, actually DANCE in the knowledge that despite his sin he is totally loved, totally forgiven and totally empowered to move forward in that victory.

As I continue my reflection of 2020 and set my sights on 2021 I’m asking for some Nathan wisdom. I’m looking for revelation about actions in my life, heart and mind that I need to lay at the foot of the cross. I want my eyes opened, like David, to the places I may have completely overlooked and missed the severity of my choices. I want to receive all that God has to offer because of the life and death of his Son Jesus. I want the freedom to live boldly, I want to not just limp into to 2021… I want to DANCE.

Even if dancing isn’t your jam. Even if you prefer to enjoy your drink and watch the rest of us parade around the dance floor. Even if…. I’m guessing there may be some things that you’d like to leave behind. I’m guessing there may be some stuff that is weighing you down, that you’d like to slough off, that you’d like to walk with a lighter step and a more peaceful spirit. Maybe this is the day to drop it. Maybe this is the day to open your heart to Jesus- the author, perfecter, redeemer and comforter. He has total freedom waiting for you and this reality may just make you want…….

to dance.

And for this I rejoice.

First wedding with all 3 kiddos – 2004 ish

CHRISTMASTIDE Day 8: A New Thing – Part 2

It sounds like the wind is going to knock right through our walls. The rain/ice/snow mix is pelting so hard against our window panes its causing out little dog to actually lift his head from his cozy slumber on the soft blanket next to me on the couch. It takes a lot to get this little guy to shift his comfort. 2021 is coming in like a Lion – indeed. Its perfect weather to snuggle in, grab a cup of your favorite drink and make a few lists.

Yesterday I shared the words from Isaiah 43:16,18-19 along with some instruction – make two lists.

The ” What God has done and will do list.”

The “My responsibility list.”

My thought was to find your answers from the multiple translations I wrote out for you in the blog. Today I want to share what I found and offer one more piece of homework as you head into this new year.

GOD LIST:

Builds Road through the ocean, build paths through pounding waves, doing something new, Build a road in the desert, rivers in the badlands, doing that new thing NOW, making a way in the wilderness, making streams in the wasteland, a road through strong currents, Opened a way through the waters and making a path right through the sea, and my favorite… I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to GO HOME.

MY LIST:

Forget the past – don’t remember or ponder what happened in earlier times

Be Alert

Be Present

Listen carefully

My questions for you and for me today –

What wilderness are you choosing to go through alone? What ocean waves are you attempting to plow through with only YOUR strength, wisdom and attempt at peace? How much time have you spent questioning your past so that you miss God’s promises and plans for your present and future? What promises have you seen God abundantly display in both the big and little challenges of your life?

Before we charge anywhere in 2021 we may want to assess our lists and clarify our lanes. Before you set your goals and create that vision board check your posture – is it one of alertness, presence and openness to God’s word and wisdom for your life? He is ready and eager to answer, to guide, to provide for every single question we have. Let’s make 2021 the year where we remind ourselves of the work that God is so capable of doing – the heavy lifting, the way making, the promise keeping. Let’s make 2021 the year where our first to do is to sit at his feet seeking the gifts he is so eager to give……

let’s do this together…..

and let’s Rejoice.

Welcome 2021

CHRISTMASTIDE: Day 7: A New Thing – Part 1

I won’t make it to midnight….

without a nap….

from about 9:30 p.m. to 11:59 when Tom will wake me up to see the ball drop.

New Years Eve. It’s just not my favorite. I love the idea of it because I love a good party. I love the gathering of friends and family. I love the snacks and drinks. I love it all… I just need it to end around 8:30 p.m. Can I get an Amen?

Despite my inability or desire to actually ring in the New Year there is something I enjoy about the next two days. I find the built in opportunity to look back on what I learned in the prior year and plan for the next to be not only enjoyable but important. A couple of years ago my daughters and I used the earlier hours of New Years eve to create dream boards for the next year. We cut pictures out of magazines and glued them to a piece of card stock. The symbols and words we discovered were a reflection of what we were committed to working towards in the new year.

This year I’ve decided to make two lists and this is where I invite you in to a little New Years Eve homework assignment. I’ve actually done a bit of the work for you but the best results will come when you take some moments to reflect on the following words I’ll share. And to be clear – these instructions are not from me – but our God who promises to give all wisdom in all situations – including the next year of life he will bring to each of us.

If you followed my blog during Lent 2020 you know that each Sunday I provided one verse in several different translations. I encouraged you to read through each one, possibly even write them out on paper so as to slow your mind down for deeper reflection. This is what I will do for you today. As I look back on 2020 and plan for 2021 – I’m using this verse to understand two things – that will grow my two lists.

  1. What has God done and will do?
  2. What is my responsibility?

It’s when these two lists start to mingle that I start to feel overwhelmed. When I start to think I’m God of the Universe things get messy. So here you go…. Isaiah 43:16,18-19 in several translations. As you read through the words make your own lists. The God List and the YOU list. I believe that this is the most important place to start when making any sort of New Years Resolution or Goal Poster. If our direction doesn’t start with God , it is likely it may not be the best idea. We all learned from 2020 that our best laid plans can all fall to pieces with one phone call, one diagnosis, one crazy virus that sneaks into our country. May this time of reflection move us to a place of HOPE in our God that will never change even when everything about us does. Grab a pen, journal, scratch paper…. lets get to list making.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19. NIV

This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea- a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things, do not dwell in the past. See I am doing a new thing! NOW it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19 AMP

This is what the Lord says, He who makes a way through the sea, and a path through the mighty waters, Do Not Remember the former things or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing. NOW it will spring forth , will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 16, 18-19 ERV

The Lord is making roads through the sea. He is making a path for his people, even through rough waters. So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert and rivers will flow through that dry land.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19 GW

The Lord makes a path through the sea and a road through the strong currents. Forget what happened in the past and do not dwell on events from long ago. I am going to do something new. It is already happening. Don’t you recognize it? I will clear a way in the desert. I will make rivers on dry land.

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19. TLB

I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a path right through the sea. But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand new thing. See I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home and create rivers for them in the desert!

Isaiah 43:16,18-19 The Message

This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, Forget about what’s happened, don’t keep going over old history. Be alert. Be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.

See you back here tomorrow… with your lists. God’s word can give us such clear direction and peace…

And for this… I rejoice.

Try writing the words – they will come to life!