Monthly Archives: December 2013

5 Ways I Want To Fail in 2014

5 ways

You may not be able to tell at first glance, but I am actually quite an overachiever. I know, I know. You’ve seen my Instagram feed  of  coffee, kids & dogs – pretty average stuff. ( not my kids – they are WAY above average and if you disagree then we can take this outside.)

But for real, I am freakishly good at some things. You know those people who can pick up any instrument and figure out how to play it in under 5 minutes? I am not one of those people. My lack of musical talent aside, there are some things that are second-nature to me.

I succeed at them without even trying really. Please, try not to hate me. I’m just gifted I suppose.

This year I want it to be different. Despite the fact that I am really really really good at these five things, I am hoping I fail miserably at them. Like point a finger and mock how bad I was at them in 2014.

1. I want to fail at acting nice. Historically I have aced this one. Polite smiles and nice words can come out of my mouth on cue. I don’t want to act nice in 2014, I want to be nice. I want to smile not out of politeness, but because I see the value in the person in front of me. No more thinking snarky comments that I’ve trained myself not to say out loud. Kind and uplifting words should spill out of this mouth instead of manipulative suggestions of negativity. Acting nice serves no benefit if I am not working towards becoming a more genuinely loving person. I hope I fail at my selfish tendencies.

2. I want to fail at making excuses. I am so good at this, I can do it in my sleep. Excuses about why I can’t trust the people I need the most. Excuses for why I can never become the woman I hope to become or why the dreams in my heart are impossible. Excuses for why I can’t exercise or keep a semi-organized closet.

There are so many excuses for why I can’t be who I want to be. Not in 2014. This is the year I fail to make excuses for myself.

3. I want to fail at filling my calendarI have a tendency to fill my days with all the “oughts”, “shoulds” and “wants”. I cram my schedule with projects and details in the name of productivity. Multi-tasking is seen as mature and responsible. Well, I am not buying it this year.

I want to make time to squeeze my kid’s cheeks, hold my husband’s hand and get lost in a daydream or two. I hope I fail to be too busy for my friends when they call, because in 50 years they will be the ones who remember me, not my to-do list.

4. I want to fail at being terrorized by my imagination. Any creative or imaginative person can tell you how easy it is to let your mind wander in the wrong direction. Down the path of assuming what people think, wondering how I would react if some tragedy were to strike or experiencing all forms of non-existent scenarios.

This year I hope to make a mockery of this habit by allowing my imagination to build up , not tear down my future. To inspire and not bully my spirit.

5. I want to fail at meeting expectations. Is there a reality show competition for this? Cause I’d totally win. This is the queen of meeting expectations here. Now, that doesn’t sound like a bad thing – achieving the goal set, doing what others hoped I would do and hitting the nail just right on the head.

Well, I’m giving expectations the boot this year. I look back and realize how much I didn’t do because I was only going to the line. Doing just what it took to get the job done. If the requirement was run one mile, I’d only run one mile even if I could have run two. ( I can’t run two miles. Heck, I probably can’t even run one mile. I refer to point #2 on this one )

I have started doing just enough to get by. How much do I miss out on because I stop at what is expected? How much do I hold back when there is still more to give?

When a friend is crying about a boy, I want to listen for how ever many hours it takes and not just the 30 minutes I said I had when she called. In 2014 I want to run the extra mile, beat the deadline not just meet it and bust through the goals in front of me.

Instead of meeting expectations I want to exceed them. Especially my own.

Traditionally this is the day  you set goals for how you want to grow in the coming year. I’ve realized that no matter how much I succeed in one thing, I must learn to fail in an other. Eating a salad is great, but kinda pointless if you follow it up with a box of donuts.

So, this year I have decided these are the 5 things I want to fail at. Starve these habits out in order for healthier ones to grow. Another year of succeeding in these things is another year robbed of its fullness. I believe that God has better things for me than a life crippled from these toxic tendencies and I believe that God will help me do it.

Sometimes failure is the only way to win. And in 2014 I intend to fail. —> click to tweet

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Tolerance and the Duck Dynasty debacle

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Okay, everyone take a deep breath. We are gonna get through this post in one piece, I promise. 

I went to bed last night having read the news about Phil from Duck Dynasty being suspended for anti-gay remarks. There was such a heaviness in my gut as I tried to go to sleep. It wasn’t anger or frustration… it was sadness.

I’m not a lawyer but I am assuming the same rights that give Phil the freedom to say what he believes  (although, the word choices could have been better) are the same rights that allow A & E to employ who they want. And if A & E isn’t allowed the right to choose employees that align with their values or beliefs, then that means a  Christian run business is also not allowed to choose employees that align with their values & beliefs. So, I’m not here to bash a television network or it’s star.

I think Phil has the right to express his belief because he was asked about it. I think A & E is a business that has the right to hire/fire whoever it wants. You have the right to boycott or write letters to whomever you wish, but that isn’t really what this post is about anyway. It’s a post about how we treat people we don’t agree with…or don’t like.

I believe in the power of tolerance. I believe that people who disagree with one another on faith, politics, environment, social issues, morality or anything else can truly love and respect each other.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, in fact I know I am.

The sadness I felt last night wasn’t about this specific situation really , but the way in which we handle people who are different than we are.

I am a Christian and I see church leaders fighting each other on the application of scripture. I am a Democrat and I watch political brawls go down on both sides of the aisle. I am a mother and I watch mom’s waging war on educational choices, vaccines and sleep schedules.

My daughter goes to public school and has been vaccinated. I can’t even tell you how many mean-spirited articles I have seen on Facebook that tell me how I am screwing up my kids because of that. And it goes both ways. You non-vacciners have gotten your fair share of Facebook rebuke. What happened to sitting around kitchen tables actually discussing these things?

We are going to disagree and debate. That’s fine. However, we have lost the art of constructive disagreement and replaced it with destructive disagreement. I see our nation tearing each other down on a daily basis.

When did we become so mean? Just the other day I got this Facebook message from someone I knew in high school. Hadn’t talked to him in years, but he just decided to express his not-so-nice opinion.

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I’ll be the first to say my blog needs some work. No news there. But, really? A Facebook slam for no apparent reason other than you think I suck and you want to bash on social media? If you really want to help me be a better blogger, give me feedback on how I could improve my content. But, he didn’t want me to get better. He just didn’t like me.

I’m not saying I am a saint. I can be mean too. And I want to change. I want to be better.

I believe in humble disagreement not proud arguments. That means messy and dirty – loving your neighbor as yourself. Even if they believe in aliens, if they think global-warming is a hoax,  if they say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, if they are gay, Muslim, Baptist, Republican, Democrat, if they think the United States should be run entirely by militias….whatever the heck they they think is true.

If you don’t feel you have the freedom to tell me what you think or believe then how can  I know you?  And if I don’t know you, how can I love you?

My hope is that we actually move beyond tolerating one another to actually loving one another. Genuinely building community with people who are different – maybe even opposing – to us in some form or fashion.

I want an America that embraces each other – not keeps our distance afraid that we will step on toes. I want Love to win, as I know it will. My desire is for people to stop saying mean things, but I want to love them even if they never do.

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You Just Have To Keep Breathing

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Sometimes what we need is simply to remember to take the next breath. Life can throw hard punches to all of us. The wind gets knocked out of our souls and we feel our spirits staggering to regain footing. Panic, pain and dread creep in as we gasp for air. We just need to catch our breath…

I had a moment this week where insecurity took my breath away. Funny, I wrote a post a few weeks ago about uniqueness and how we can be so bogged down trying to find our own brand of “special”. Yet here I was, giving into the temptation to look at a peer and compare myself.

Each person has their own demons they struggle with. My insecurity isn’t so much what other people think about me, the number on a scale or if I am liked. The battle I face is an internal one. There are times where I feel insecure about how my personality comes off or if my failures will define me.

This isn’t embarrassing for me to share because I know that we all have our own places of vulnerability – the place we loose our breath. Maybe it is low self-esteem, feeling isolated, fear of the unknown or being hyper-performance driven.

The holidays bring pain for many people whose vulnerabilities are centered around their families. Perhaps you experienced an abusive childhood, absent parents, you are single and long for a family of your own.

I don’t know what your is, but you do. You know the cause of your stress, anxiety and makes you want to switch off.

When I feel that heaviness creeping in I remember that this isn’t the way I was meant to live. The unsettiling tide of dread and suffocating situations do not have to be my normal. I remind myself to breathe.

I slow down & remember that my life is bigger than this problem I am facing.

I remind myself that I can choose to let go of the burden I am carrying.

My thoughts focus back on what I truly value & what matters to me the most.

I also meditate & recite this passage:

“… For I am convinced that neither death nor life,

neither angels nor demons,

neither present nor future, nor any powers,

neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– Romans 8:37

If you don’t have something to cling to in those moments of vulnerable pain, I recommend meditating on this. Not one single thing – not terminal illness, personal failure, abusive pasts, an unknown future, addictions, no situation or circumstance, nothing you could have done could separate you from Love.

When I take time to slowly breath and meditate on that Truth, I find myself refreshed and ready to walk through whatever is confronting me.

Some of you may need professional help to assist you in catching your breath again. Get it, no shame in that.

Most of us though simply need to remember that whatever is weighing us down doesn’t really own us. We simply need to keep breathing and remember that Love is holding us all the way.

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What The Federal Government Taught Me About Motherhood

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Why I Speak To Cats In Russian

illustration by Gemma Correll

illustration by Gemma Correll

I speak to cats in Russian.  I know, right?  Weird. Why would a girl from Texas do that?

During the ages of 11-13 I lived in Irkutsk, Russia with my family. So much of my life has been shaped by those years. When there is a bowl of soup in front of me, you can bet I will put sour cream in it. The smell of dill is synonymous with summer in my mind. I believe that eating ice cream in freezing temperatures will keep you warm and I draw a line through my ” 7 ” s and ” Z ” s.

Also, I still speak to cats in Russian. I’m not sure why, it is just one of those things that stuck with me. I wish it was a more useful skill that remained from my time there, like knowing how to tell which berries can be eaten in the woods. That would be helpful to remember. Instead it is the cat quirk that has stayed with me.

In high school I tried to be cool and keep the cat thing under wraps. I was a closet Russian-cat-speaker. I moonlighted as an average American teenager. Pretending to be angsty about life and acting like platform sandals really looked cool. ( they didn’t. The NEVER were cool. )

And I was accepted. I was accepted for the perception of myself I put out there. The bummer was that the acceptance felt really limited to me. My peers weren’t accepting the Russian speaking, politically driven, and senior citizen loving teenager that I really was.

In college it all came out. Time had taught me to embrace some of the cross-cultural traits I had picked up. I developed my friendships differently – high outer walls and low inner walls. I made factual statements in question form and tended to clap in unison with the person next to me.

I stopped hiding all the little things I was so insecure about before. Shout out to hipsters for making quirky cool I guess. I wasn’t afraid of who I was anymore. Encouragements were breathed in deep and owned because they were spoken to the real me.

When we are honest about who we really are, we can be loved for who we really are. And we all need to be loved. —> click to tweet

Sure, I am still quirky. I’d like to think it is charming in a Zoe Deschanel kind of way, but it probably isn’t. And it doesn’t matter really because it is who I am.

So many of us are surrounded by people who care about us, but we still don’t feel loved. Perhaps it is because we aren’t being honest and showing them our true selves. The cat thing is a funny example, but there are more serious things we keep hidden.

Our sins, our weaknesses, past failures or deeply rooted insecurities. Maybe you struggle with depression and are afraid people will misunderstand you. Perhaps you think your religious beliefs will be judged or maybe you are afraid your personality isn’t right.

I believe we were all made to be loved. By God and by others. So be yourself – insecurities and all – and be loved for it. And if you speak to cats in Russian too, let me know. We could start a club.

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Say Something Meaningful

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It wasn’t until his death that I realized just what a significant impact he had on me. This past Saturday I found myself sitting in a crowd of  80 people who had gathered together for a memorial service to honor Dr. Loring.

To say that I knew him well would be misleading. I knew Dr. Loring from a distance. I couldn’t have told you where he was born, the hobbies that filled up his empty time or what his final days were like. All I knew is what he meant to me and what I saw that day.

I scanned the room and found some familiar faces while waiting for the service to start. By the end of that next hour, my life would have been deeply impacted by the people sitting next to me. The pastor got up and shared briefly about Dr. Loring’s early life. Talked about his marriage, family and the years he spent pastoring churches in Oklahoma and Texas.

A significant part of Dr. Lorings adult life was spent working with the homeless population in Dallas, TX.  It was compassion,  not pity drove him. A genuine care, not obligatory or with a savior-complex. Dr. Loring loved people.

About halfway through the memorial service, a strange thing happened. The event turned into an open-mic where those attending could share their thoughts. I kind of moaned to myself at first. This is going to be boring and take forever. It wasn’t boring, and I wish it took forever.

One by one, people stood up and shared the ways they were impacted by his life. A politician told of the evenings spent with Dr. Loring and all the wisdom he offered. A homeless man shared about how Dr. Loring had changed his life while he was on the streets in Dallas. Story after story from friends and family.

By about the tenth person I clued into a pattern. Each person mentioned a specific thing they remembered Dr. Loring telling them. His words stayed with them. Words that created a sense of identity or purpose. Words that comforted a broken place.

These were not simply antidotes or greeting-card phrases. Dr. Loring took the time to see people, recognize who they were & speak to that area. What he spoke everyone remembered. I remembered.

It was either the spring or summer of 2005 and I was at a conference outside of Dallas. My husband and I were gearing up to leave that fall and start a church in Seattle. Dr. Loring was there and came over to chat with me before one of the sessions started.

Chit chat and a few thought provoking questions met with my half-thought answers. The room was buzzing with people grabbing their last minute coffee before taking their seats, but Dr. Loring kept our conversation going.

I’ll never forget what he said at the end of our conversation. “You, you are lionhearted.” 

That was the end of our conversation, but I kept replaying that line over and over. I tried to breathe it in and hold onto it. Those words spoke to a huge question mark that always seemed to linger over me.

I wanted to believe that I was brave. I desperately hoped that I would have the courage to live the life I wanted. All the insecurities of my early 20s seemed to try and convince me otherwise, but those words nailed identity into me.

Over the years I have pulled on those words. When things felt too big, too heavy or I was acutely aware of my shortcomings, I would remember. No. I can do this because I am lionhearted. 

I owe much of what I have accomplished in the past 8 years to that one conversation. And that is why I was there that day to celebrate Dr. Loring’s life. It is why we were all there.

His words brought us together.

You know that kind of introspection that leaves you overwhelmed and nearly paralyzed? That is what I experienced on my drive home. I mulled over the things people had shared about the ways Dr. Loring’s words had marked them.

Lots of people say nice, kind and friendly things. But his were deeply meaningful and spoken with a level of intention and thought I’ve rarely seen. Those statements have given courage to many and provided a foundation for amazing things. I realied that I wanted to say things worth standing on.

I am mildly intentional about what I say. Is that a bad thing for a writer to admit? I want to say things like Dr. Loring did. I want to say something that has an eternal purpose in it. Something that will be the foundation for strong relationships, charity, faith and dreams.

Words hold eternal opportunities. Say something meaningful. —> click to tweet.

Don’t worry,  I’m not going to turn into some guru who tries to be impressive and profound all the time. But, I am going to take opportunities to speak life to people.

Words should be constructive not destructive. They should dispel insecurity and impart courage. Our words should make a difference.

Take the time to say something meaningful. Your words might be your legacy.

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