Archive for March, 2015


Last year I took the month of July to stretch myself a bit. I decided to do a “new thing” every day. Some of those new things were pretty trivial, like choosing a different route to run or take to work. But I also threw in a few things I’ve always wanted to do and never had, like visiting the local art museum, trying out the Cuban restaurant downtown and getting my first pedicure.

Some of the new things were fun, like getting a new haircut and style. Some of the new things were necessary but not particularly enjoyable, like my first ever colonoscopy. You laugh but there were lots and lots of new experiences rolled up into that one!

There was one new thing that I hated. I lost a very good friend to cancer. That one I had no choice about but going through the process with my friend’s family was definitely outside of any comfort zone I thought I had. However I don’t want to experience it again.

Some of my first things have turned into habits. I first gave blood back in November and now I give every 8 weeks. That new haircut back in July has become my go-to cut now. I promised myself to run a 5K in 2014 and I ran three of them, with two more scheduled already this year.

Tomorrow begins April, the traditional first real month of spring. We’ll see some green grass, finally, and maybe a few flowers and budding trees soon. As spring is the season for new beginnings, I thought I’d try another stab at a “New Things Month.” This time I’m choosing to try experiences which I’ve said “I can’t” or “I’ve never” or “I would never” do. I could really stretch the limits with this one so I’m clarifying that I will stay within my own moral boundaries as well as any legal limitations. I don’t want to experience the inside of a jail cell for the first time.

My list includes a few fun things, like trying out sushi for the first time and eating at a Thai restaurant. I keep putting that one on my list but I never get it done. I definitely will in April 2015! I’m also going to encourage my husband to join me in a Meatless Monday, going vegetarian for the four Mondays in April. Since I really, really like meat, I may need to get pretty creative on those days.

There are some classes I’d like to attempt: learning to bake bread from scratch, taking some sort of art class, and Zumba…definitely going to try Zumba. Probably in the safety of my own basement with a DVD. There will be no videos posted on Facebook.

Someone said I should try sky diving. It fits my categories (I can’t, I’ve never, I would never) but it’s really expensive so I think I’ll pass this time. But it may go on my “someday in my lifetime” list. Who knows? I went up in a hot air balloon last fall and I certainly never thought I’d ever get to do that.

What things have you said “no” to? Where can you stretch yourself this month? Add a little adventure to your life. Push past your self-imposed restrictions and live life a little more dangerously. Anyone want to join me in getting my eyebrows waxed?

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Ditch the fear sign

Day 40:

Last year I was privileged to participate in a very interactive workshop with the intention of discovering more about who I am, how I show up and what motivates me. The purpose was to help me decide to live an epic life…a life which impacts others. I can’t do that if I’m not being the best ME I can be. So I live intentionally. I make deliberate decisions to do things I’ve never done, go places I’ve never gone. That also means I’ve needed to confront a few faulty mindsets which had set up shop in my brain. In this “last” blog, I’ll share a few that have been most impactful to me in the last year.

“I have to figure it out first.”

Have you have said this? Doesn’t matter if you’ve spoken the words, the mindset might still be entrenched within you. I am a naturally cautious and careful planner. That seems like a pretty good trait, right? Not when it’s taken to an extreme. I was so careful that I missed out on the fun and laughter of being spontaneous. Do you plan the fun right of everything? Don’t you want to jump headfirst into an unplanned day sometimes? Go for it. Kick that mindset right out!

“If I try, I will fail.”

This one is the safe choice. I often chose safety over getting outside my comfort zone. Choosing to take back my health was my epiphany…baby steps forward helped me to be successful. But it all happened because I chose to try. Failure will happen. It happens to everyone. But it’s not the end. It’s just a wall. I got past it. You will too.

“It won’t matter anyway.”

I’m a natural optimist but sometimes I struggle to overcome this one. Defeatist attitudes are so easy to buy into. We don’t see the success we want. We work hard and see no difference. We diet or work out and see no weight loss. We spend hours teaching our kids to clean up after themselves, and still end the day setting the house in order, just so they can destroy it the next day. But life choices do matter. You matter! Each small decision we make to grow up, move forward, change destructive mindsets will matter. When I started recognizing those mindsets and chose to do different, then I noticed changes in my behavior almost immediately.

An epic life involves a day-to-day, step-by-step process. Here are a few choices I’ve made to change how I show up in life

Have fun

Choose “all in” participation – don’t hold back!

Take risks – choose the path least taken!

Minimize distractions! 

Get uncomfortable!

Don’t settle!

“Then, she began to breathe, and live, and every moment took her to a place where goodbyes were hard to come by. She was in love, but not in love with someone or something. She was in love with her life. And for the first time, in a long time, everything was inspiring.” (R.M. Drake)

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I can do it myself

If you’re a parent, you’ve heard this at least once, but probably more like 100 times however many children you have. We want our children to learn new things, gain confidence in their abilities and eventually head out on their own as self-sufficient adults. But that phrase “I can do it myself!” (at the top of his lungs) used to grate on my very last nerve. Maybe I was attempting to teach him how to tie his shoes, or make his bed, or do the dishes, or learn a new math concept. Only took one time and then he was an expert and I heard “I Can Do It Myself!” In all probability, the shoelaces would fall apart, the comforter covered up sheets still at the foot of the bed and the plates had bits of dried on egg. We all think we can do for ourselves when in actuality, we need God and we need each other.

The definition of “self-sufficient” actually means having extreme confidence in one’s own resources or powers. My job as a parent was to raise a dependent little boy into a self-sufficient young man. But we can’t forget that we are not to be self-sufficient in all things. Jesus told us He could do nothing by himself; He could do only what He saw the Father doing. If Jesus needs the Father, then how much more do I need Him?

Paul’s exhortation to the church in Corinth included a long passage about unity necessary in the Body of Christ. (1 Cor 12:12-13 – “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”)

If our mission is to love God and love others, then it’s not possible to live with self-sufficiency as our motto. I need you. You need me. We all need God. We are quick to quote Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all this through him who gives me strength”) when we’re in a pickle, but it’s a verse we also need to remember when we’re doing well. It is only through Christ that we can accomplish anything of value. Together, as one Body, so much more can be done for the cause of Christ. Today, I’m letting go of my self-sufficiency and embracing my need for God. I Can’t Do It By Myself!

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I have a large basket on my counter that I try to keep filled with apples, oranges and bananas. Occasionally I notice an orange at the bottom will go bad, or a banana becomes brown, before I can get it eaten. And once in a while, I’ll bite into an apple that looks great on the outside, but is discolored and mealy on the inside. Yuck! No one likes rotten fruit!

The Apostle Paul knows all about rotten fruit. In Galatians 5, Paul talks about the fight going on in each of us. The fight between good and evil, between living according to our sinful natures and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your life. According to Paul, “these two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” (Gal. 5:17b) And when you give in to your sinful nature, all kinds of really nasty stuff happens…things like idolatry, hostility, envy, outbursts of anger, jealousy, division, quarreling, selfish ambition. That’s what I call bad fruit. Attitudes, habits and behavior which make us look and sound pretty awful. But, the Holy Spirit produces the good stuff. The fruit of walking in the Spirit is (say it with me)…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That’s a beautiful bowl of fruit!

Later on, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul gives us a “to-do” list for walking in the Spirit, for producing the kind of fruit I want to be known for – healthy, plump, beautiful fruit – which attracts others to you and to your life lived for Jesus. I love how The Message says Philippians 2:3: “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

By choosing to walk in the Spirit, you’ll constantly be producing gorgeous fruit and tossing out the bad stuff. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be known for my rotten fruit.

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dirty socks

I am a blessed woman. I know it. I’m a “there’s always a silver-lining” kind of person. Makes my kids crazy sometimes. I’ve always said things are never as bad as they seem. But there are still times when I’m overwhelmed, when I can’t see anything except the chaos around me. And I let myself get sad. I start thinking “poor me.” I begin to believe the lies – you know the ones…”I’m alone, I’m going to fail, I’m not good enough, I can’t do it.” In this case – I – is the operative word. I’ve become self-absorbed.

It’s in those moments when I desperately need to look outside of myself. When I feel the pull to look inward, I fight it…with everything I have. I go to my “Gratitude Fix.”

Ann Voskamp calls them gifts. In her book entitled “One Thousand Gifts,” she challenged me to live fully right where I am. I read the book a few years ago and took her up on her 1000 gift dare. I opened a brand new, clean notebook, ready to fill it with beautiful expressions of my heart’s cry of gratitude. I decided to come up with 10 to 20 new entries each day. It started out pretty easy. I could think of a lot of things I was thankful for…air to breathe, a house to live in, a husband who loves me, clean water to drink. But after the first fifty or so, it started getting a little tougher. That’s when I began to look at the smallest of items as blessings, as gifts, in my life.

My notebook began to fill up. A thousand gifts takes a while to compile. I began to really look for things to be thankful for. My senses became more attune to the blessings all around me. My eyes got sharper. I saw my mundane life in a new way. I viewed circumstances in a different light. I heard smaller sounds. I tasted more clearly, felt more deeply, inhaled new aromas.

Thank You, Lord, for the dirty socks left in the living room (which means my kids have enjoyed their day and have feet to wear socks on).
Thank You for garbage to haul outside (meaning I have more than enough food to eat)
Thanks for toilets to clean (Thank You God for Indoor Plumbing!)
Thank You for that first daffodil in the spring and the sounds of cardinals in the trees.
Thanks for bunnies who race with me down the trail in the wee hours of the day.
Thank You for the aromas of lilacs, and baking bread, and burning leaves, and freshly-laundered sheets.
Thank You for the taste of peppermint or that first pungent sip of freshly-roasted coffee.

You should try it sometime. If a list of one thousand seems overwhelming, do half of that or a quarter. The point is to look beyond the obvious and see the hidden hand of God. You are blessed. Now it’s time to realize it.

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envy ice cream

Envy – the green-eyed monster. What’s the big deal? Being envious of someone doesn’t really hurt anyone, right? Well, actually it does. It hurts you. It stunts your spiritual and emotional growth. Always wanting what you don’t or can’t have can lead to a lot of problems.

Think about something or someone you’ve been envious of. Maybe you’re envious of that new engagement ring your best friend is showing off…maybe you’re envious of the “We’re expecting a baby!” couple…how about that new big house so-and-so is moving into next week…or the promotion your co-worker just got. Why is it so easy to be envious?

It’s our nature to want something we can’t have…goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. Abel received God’s favor, Cain didn’t. In this case, Cain was so envious, so angry, he killed his brother and hid the crime. Saul was envious of David and the adulation David received from the Israelites. Peter was envious of Jesus’ statement regarding John. I’m sure you can think of more examples.

Envy is only the first step down the path toward greater and greater darkness. If it’s not checked or confronted in your life, it can lead to bitterness, offense, anger, or in some cases, violence.

I’ve learned to reexamine my desires when I find myself feeling envy. According to 1 Cor. 13, love is not envious. So the solution to my envy problem is love…unconditionally loving those I feel have what I need or want…loving my life just the way it is…loving God for the favor and blessings He has granted me. Learning to let go of the envy and embracing the life I have, grateful for every little piece of it.

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I think I know God. I think I realize how big and powerful God is. I think I can comprehend that He knows all things and sees all things. I think I believe God heals, God provides, God comforts, God gives guidance and wisdom, God loves me.


Do I bring all my needs to God? No. Why not?

Maybe I really don’t think He cares enough about me?

Do I pray believing God is listening?

Do I talk about Him to others, trusting they will want to know this mighty and awesome God?

Do I seek Him first when I’m sad, or hurting, or needing a miracle?

Is my view of God based on my experiences or based on the truth of Scripture?

What is my reality in my view of God?

Just a few questions to get me moving from my small view of God to the reality of who He is…

God confronts Job in the latter chapters of his book about His size and awesome-ness…”where were you when I created the earth?…And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?…And have you ever ordered Morning, ‘Get up!’ told Dawn, ‘Get to work!’…Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives so you can take them by the hand and lead them home when they get lost?…Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations and how they affect things on Earth? Can you get the attention of the clouds…Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders?” (just a little bit from Job 38 in The Message – read the whole thing for yourself. Awesome just barely describes it!)

Job responds appropriately – “I’m speechless, in awe – words fail me….I’m ready to shut up and listen.”

It’s time for me to look past the mountain and really see the Mountain Mover.


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Pride. Spiritual pride. I have all the answers.
God wouldn’t approve of you because I don’t approve of you.
Pharisees of the 21st century.
Christians with preconceived ideas of how God loves, who God loves, what God loves.

I can’t imagine He would ever accept you as you are.
You must re-make yourself into my image before you’ll be allowed into our church country club.
You must learn our language – our dress – our customs & traditions.

I’m sure God wouldn’t like your tattoos.
You’ll need to get those removed. Or covered up. Definitely covered up.
I’m sure He doesn’t like the word “meditation.” Change your language.

You don’t attend a church? Well, you’ve got to do that.
You don’t read the Bible? I’ve read it all the way through…even Leviticus, and Ezekiel.
You don’t have a regular “quiet time?”
What do you mean, “What is a quiet time?”

No, you can’t worship God outside in nature. That’s too much like “new age” stuff.
No, you need to pray this way – my way – our church’s way.

No, we don’t like liturgy. We’re free to pray in our own words, these words.
Don’t read your prayer. That’s too much like having someone else tell you what to pray.
We’re all about freedom…

No, you can’t drink.
Or smoke.
Or swear.
Or dress like that.
Or listen to that music.
Or act like that.
Or hang with people like that.
No, you can’t do that.

Hey – Jesus loves you just the way you are.
I’m proud to be a Christian…
Not so much.

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Are you resistant to change? Sometimes I am…sometimes I like it. It usually depends on what is being changed. Changing my clothes – good. Changing my sleep schedule – not so good. Being forced to change is where we usually resist. If we can choose what we change, then we seem more accepting. For instance, some women love to change their hair style or color. But if I told you what you HAD to have for a hair color (Purple? Let’s try it!), you may be a little more resistant.

Last year I spent a couple of months dedicated to thinking up ways to change things up in my routine. I visited places I had never been, tasted new flavors, challenged myself physically and mentally (which meant I was challenged emotionally too). And I loved it! Some of the changes I made were planned, which made them a little easier to accept. A couple of the changes were definitely not planned and they were much harder to deal with. But my mindset for change, which I purposely chose to buy into – that mindset which allowed the good and the bad, the planned and the unexpected – it pushed me beyond what I thought I could do.

I’m going to tackle this challenge again in April. It’s spring, the season of new beginnings. I’ve already thought of a couple of new changes I want to try. I’m using a little different criteria this time around. I’m specifically looking for changes which will challenge what I’ve always said about myself. So if I’ve said “I’ve never” or “I can’t” about something, that’s going on my list. Don’t worry – I’m not going to compromise my morality (in case you were fearful I’d end up on the 10 o’clock news) but there are plenty of things I’ve never attempted because I thought I couldn’t or shouldn’t. Like eating sushi, or learning to bake bread, or running a half-marathon. Of course, there are plenty of things I won’t be changing because some things just shouldn’t be done. Dark hose with white shoes and wearing yoga pants to work are some of the first things coming to mind.

Give me some ideas – what would you do to change things up for yourself in April? What have you always said you couldn’t or wouldn’t do? Make a list and then go for it!

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pedestal person

I had a pastor friend once talk to his group of college-age students about idolizing. He said when you idolize someone, you are setting them up to fail, because no one can live up to the standards set for someone placed on a pedestal.

As flawed human beings, we will all fail at some point. When the person we idolize falls from the high place we’ve put them, we often can become disappointed or angry to discover he or she wasn’t the perfect person we thought they should be. It’s not fair to them or to us.

Don’t assign anyone a standard they cannot live up to.

That means your spouse, your kids, your boss, even (or especially) your pastor. Give up placing unreal expectations of excellence or perfection on someone else.

And, by the way, don’t do it to yourself either. Are you a perfectionist? Are you placing higher standards on yourself than you would someone else? Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself a break. Jump down off the pedestal before you fall down. Because inevitably, we all fall down. Thankfully, the grace of God helps us up again. Just stand on the ground and leave the idolizing to J-Lo, Harry and Keith.

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