Friday, November 16, 2012

Don't Steal Your Joy Moments

It's a gorgeous fall day in Texas. I just finished writing the first draft of an article due Dec 1st, which is something to be proud of seeing it is only Nov 16th. I went for a walk with my best buds Big Daddy Weave (loving their latest project). A flock of red-winged black birds flew overhead and all I could think was God, I feel so alive! But before I could draw my next breath another thought hit, I wonder what hardship is around the corner that will suck the life out of me.

It made me so mad I wanted to swear. 

I hate that I do this - miss out on the glory of a moment wondering what event might steal the moment from me.  I am the one stealing those moments from myself. In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown talks about foreboding joy, approaching joy with the sense that surely this won't last long. Thinking that if I don't give myself completely over to the joy of this moment, then difficulty won't cause quite as much pain.

I'm done with this!

I want to live EACH DAY and feel EACH MOMENT fully!

I had an opportunity to put this new mindset into practice a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to go for a walk but didn't want to go alone so I extended an invitation to the whole household. My dear 12 yr old accepted. He rode his bike beside me on the way out, but on the way home when he stopped to check out the erosion that is talking place by our neighborhood lake, I climbed on his bike. He ran to catch up and jumped on the pegs. For a few precious moments, I pedaled while he stood over me with his hands on my shoulders. I leaned back to feel his nearness. We talked and I soaked it in, until we hit a patch of slick algae-infused mud and the bike slide out from under us. I scraped my knee and hit my cheek on the sidewalk. 

I was determined not to let this accident overshadow the joy of being with my son. I hugged him and told him how grateful I was for our time together. 

Sure there are bumps on the road of life and road-rash really hurts. I refuse to be consumed with the cautious apprehension of "what's next". When life happens, I'll get back up. If I can't get myself back up, I have friends who will help me. When the world slips right out from under me, I have a Savior to carry me.

Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd 

and carry them forever.  Psalm 28:9

Don't steal your own joy moments. Don't let the "what ifs" sentence you to a life of self-protection. Get back on the bicycle and REALLY live today!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Shine like the Summer Sun

Summer officially begins on June 20th, 2012 at 6:09PM Central Daylight Time with the summer solstice - the moment when the sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. Unofficially all Texans know that summer is here today. School is out and the sun is shining. Who needs a date and time? That sounds like summer to me!

I love the sun. Perhaps my affection could be attributed to my growing up years far from the equator in Bismarck, North Dakota. We see the sun a bit less up there. I think I was meant to be a southern girl.  I can't wait to get out in the summer sun.

I read this verse a few weeks ago in Judges 5:31"...may those who love the LORD be like the sun when it rises in all its brightness..."  It stirred up my longing for summer.  Another translation says may those who love you shine like the unclouded sun. How can we bring the glory of summer to those around us?

1. LIGHT -  Shine in the darkness. Share the light of truth today. Be bright!

3. LIFT - Sunlight is an all natural mood booster. Laugh. Play. Tickle someone. Have some fun!

2. WARMTH - Love is understood by all. Show some kindness. Hug someone. Share a smile. 

How can you be the sunshine in your world today?

I know the sun gets a bad rap sometimes and sunburn is a miserable thing but check out this article for 25 Health Benefits of Sensible Sun Exposure. Slap on some sunscreen. Grab a water bottle and enjoy!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Goals and Wishes

Goals are way too much like expectations and expectations can lead to disappointment, so for years now I've flat refused to set them.

I was on the elliptical the other day listening to an audio book on my ipod. Well, it's not my ipod. It's my husband's and its chock full of all kinds of leadership books. Normally, I would never listen to stuff like that. I don't know what got into me.

I was walking, running, ellipicalling away and I agreed with the gal reading the book. "I really should set some goals," I told myself. As quickly as the thought sprung up in my mind, tears welled up in my eyes. "I don't want to set goals, whenever I do that I just end up disappointed." I pedaled a little slower. Thankfully I was the only one in our neighborhood gym.

I do what I can to avoid disappointment. What seems to work really well is squelching expectation.

I had this little thought - mostly what I've done in the past is make wishes not set goals. There is a difference. Wishes are just floating out there. I"m learning on the audio book, which just grabbed my attention again, that goals need to be measurable.

I decided to give it a shot and just to hold myself accountable - I decided to share my plan with you.

I am setting a goal to exercise for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week - that sounds both reasonable and measurable, doesn't it?

I am also making a plan to track and celebrate this goal.

I will write down each workout on my closet calender. I'll number them each week Sunday through Saturday.

If I make it to three - I will celebrate reaching that goal for the week with a smiley face on Saturday.
If by some crazy scheme I over reach that goal I will be incredibly happy of myself, and I might tell a friend.
If I don't reach the goal - I promise to be kind to myself. I'll evaluate my schedule and spend a few minutes looking at what other thing became a priority in my life that week.

In three months I will look over my progress and adjust the goal or add structure.

This is my gentle approach to goal setting. What is your approach?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Migration

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were sitting outside on the back patio when I noticed something in the distance. A large skein of Canadian Geese was heading north east and about to pass directly overhead. I called the boys outside. Even though they were far above us, we could hear the steady rhythm of their powerful wings carrying them back home.

This weekend, my younger son and I noticed a flock of male Yellow-headed Blackbirds foraging on the ground in our neighborhood. They are still here today, fueling up for the rest of their migration which will take them far into Canada.

Today, I can't help but notice the abundance of butterflies. These fragile creatures also follow migratory patterns that carry them through the Austin area. Amazing how these delicate wings can make such treacherous journeys.

I have my own brief migration this time of year and enjoy spending more time outside our home. Spring in Texas is enchanting. Just as the sun begins to warm my skin, cool breezes waft in to refresh and invigorate. I can't get enough. I want to be outside.

Hopefully at some time this summer our family will migrate to the beach. I love the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean. I feel them calling me. So I'm thinking a lot about migration, seasons, life-cycles, beginnings, endings and all these creatures that must move. I believe to live well on the planet we have to embrace change. Movement. Migration.

Do you ever feel this need to fly? Where does it take you?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why I Love The Wind

Whenever I go for a walk in the neighborhood, I am reminded why I love the wind. I walk away from our home for a mile or so. Its wonderful to get out of the house and away from all these things - into the living world. Everything is green and full of life. When I turn around to come back home, the wind washes across my face and wakes me up to life.

The wind reminds me that I am alive. I feel the touch of the wind on my skin. I breathe in the fragrances of Spring - fresh cut grass, blooming crepe myrtle, dark rich earth. I hear the wind whisking through young leaves. I see tall Texas weeds bending in the breeze. I am Alive.

When I feel the wind on my face I am reminded that I am not alone. It's like a kiss from God brushing across my cheeks saying "I Am here with you. Though you may not see me, I want you to feel my presence." I know God is in the wind. I am never alone.

My hair is frizzing out in the humid morning air, flying freely away from my face and I am so glad to be moving, so glad to be free. The wind stirs up this gratitude. I know what its like to be stuck, to be stationary. Moving forward is much better.

I could not live where there was no wind.

He walks upon the wings of the wind;
He makes the winds His messengers...Psalm 104

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Where Are You Hiding?

"Has the man come here yet?"
And the LORD said,
"Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage."
I Sam 10:22

The prophet Samuel had already anointed Saul as king, but when it came time to present him to the people as their new ruler, Saul was no where to be found. He was hiding.

God told Samuel that Saul was hiding among the baggage.

We all have baggage, things that we carry with us through life. Those bags can weigh us down. They embarrass us as we try to juggle the burdens. We are crippled and encumbered by our baggage.

But sometimes that baggage comes in handy, like when you need a good place to hide. I am guilty of hiding in the baggage of my short-comings, the pain of a past hurt, fear of the unknown, and even in the wonderful busy-ness of my present.

Where Are You Hiding?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

He Will Steady You

Do you remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle?

There is a really cute video online with a little boy, about 5 years old, who obviously just took his first solo ride on a two wheeler. He tells his dad "I feel, I feel happy of myself!" Click here to watch his 1 min video

This little guy is decked out. He's got the helmet, a puffy fleece jacket, knee pads and gloves with the fingers cut out. I don’t know about you, but I did not have all that protective gear when I learned how to ride a bike. I’m pretty sure I skipped the training wheels step all together. I remember my little sister having training wheels, but I think both my brother and I went straight from a tricycle to a two wheeler.

We were at the mercy of the pavement.

Could that be true? I wasn't sure, so I called my mom.

"Mom do you remember when I learned to ride a bicycle?"

"All I remember is your dad running up and down the street with you, holding on to the back of your bike."

I remember that too.

I didn't go out alone to face the pavement. My dad was right beside me, holding me steady until I found my balance.

In Isaiah 41 from The Message Bible God says to his children, "I’ve picked you, I haven’t dropped you. Don’t panic I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I'll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."

I love that picture of God.

I am so blessed that my dad was right beside me when I learned to ride my bike. I hope you had someone there to help you too. I KNOW we all have a Father, a God who is near. He is with us to help us, to strengthen us,to hold us STEADY.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stuck Like Glue

"Dot, dot, dot - don't use a lot." Our son’s preschool teacher repeated her gluing mantra over and over, but to no avail. Pink and red construction paper hearts and white doilies swam in a sea of sloppy gloppy stickiness. With that age group less is never more.

Do you remember discovering the amazing properties of school glue? It goes on white but dries clear. It practically disappears! David remembers letting glue dry on his fingers and then peeling it off tip by tip. Glue can take two separate items and make them one. It is a fascinating substance.

Jesus mentioned glue in the context of marriage. He said “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife.” The original Greek word for cleave is “kollao” which literally means “to glue”. Husbands and wives are to bond, adhere, and be glued to one another.

As our boys have grown into adolescence, David has taken each of them away for a special weekend they call their “Journey to Manhood.” David used material from FamilyLife Publishing by Dennis & Barbara Rainey called Passport2Purity. Together they listened to messages, answered discussion questions and worked on object lessons. One of the lessons involves glue. Although the focus with our preteens was to discourage exclusive relationships, we see a slightly different lesson for marriages.

No mess for me

If we take two paper hearts and stack them up or rub them together, neither is changed. They are still two pieces of paper. In the same way, it’s relatively easy for two people to cohabitate without connection. Do you know couples like this? They go through the motions without sharing much. They exist in the same space but occupy separate lives. Life is neat and tidy when all you have to think about is yourself.

A little dab won’t do ya

Dot some glue on those paper hearts and they’ll stick for a good long while, but over the years glue gets dry and brittle. Like my mom’s high school scrapbook - years later when we found it in the storage room, pictures and papers slipped right off the pages. You’ve heard that silly story about a husband saying “I told my wife I loved her on our wedding day and that hasn’t changed, why would I keep saying it?” That attitude doesn’t work! The principle of “leave and cleave” is not a one time occurrence. It is an ongoing process.

Less is never more

Invite a preschooler to glue your paper hearts and it’s a completely different story. They’ll smear glue all over the paper, take the lid off the bottle and pour it on until the tacky white stuff oozes out from under the paper. Then they’ll want to do it all over again the next day…..and the next day. What a great model for bonding as husband and wife. We can’t be stingy when we think about connecting our hearts, even if things get a little messy. We have to keep gluing, keep cleaving, and keep joining together. We have to pursue intimacy.

In counseling, we learned that intimacy causes short term instability. It’s tempting to avoid that temporary shakiness by holding back or pretending and not sharing your true feelings. David and I both have moments when we know that being open and honest is a risk and could make life uncomfortable for a while. We are learning to press through that fear, knowing the instability won’t last long. When we chose vulnerability, we strengthen the bond between us. We are stuck like glue.

Try This:

Gather some paper, scissors, and pens and make a hand-made valentine for your sweetheart this year. Don’t forget the glue! Write your own special version of “Roses Are Red….”

If you need to have “the talk” with your pre-teen, we recommend Passport2Purity. Find out more at

Deut 13:4 says “Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” (KJV) What would it look like to glue yourself to God?

This was our article for the February edition of Austin Faith & Family magazine. Unfortunately the magazine is closing. We are grateful for the opportunity to share our thoughts on marriage with the Austin community.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is the Seed Still in the Barn?

My grandparents were farmers and one of the greatest joys I had growing up in North Dakota was spending a week on the farm. We would wake up every morning to the smell the sausage sizzling in the kitchen. We didn't eat cereal on the farm. We ate real food. We would help my grandmother milk the cows, gather eggs, and make lunch for the men in the fields which oddly enough included my little brother.

There is so much work to do on a farm but it didn’t matter how busy things got, we never missed church on Sunday. My grandmother served with the ladies auxiliary. It was just a part of who we are. So I have this legacy of faith. Life gets busy, but you still get to church on Sunday. Challenges come. Hail storms, droughts and blizzards blow in, but God remains faithful.

A farmer knows, when you plant a seed in the ground a harvest is coming.

In Haggai 2:19, we hear God speaking:

"I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you."

God is saying, it’s not harvest time. In fact, you haven't even planted your seed. Blessing comes from ME!

Other translations of this verse begin with a question - Is the seed still in the barn? What a great question for the beginning of a new year. Is the seed still in the barn? Are there dreams and hopes in you? Is there untapped potential waiting to be planted?

Now is a good time to get the seed out of the barn and plant it in some fertile ground. Know that God is faithful. Blessing comes from Him.