5 Questions About…Risk

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Sharon is a dear friend who both inspires and intimidates me with her amazingness.  She has guest-posted here before.  I’m so thankful that in the midst of a busy, stressful time, she was willing to share some more of what she’s learning.  Here’s the next in our 5 Questions About…series.

1. Recently you took what must have felt like a huge risk. Can you tell us about it?

Eight months ago, I resigned from a job I had loved and made the leap to running my own business. This happened after an extended season of prayer and discernment, so by the time I made the change, I felt certain it was the right thing to do.

Yes, there were practical risks involved: leaving a certain income, benefits, 401K; losing the familiarity of my office and team. And as a single person, I didn’t have a safety net of a second income, back-up insurance, or a support person to pick up slack in other areas of life. But I was also very clear about why I was making the change: 1) to be faithful to what I understood God was putting in my hands; 2) to learn and grow through a new challenge.

So when I framed it that way, I realized that even if my business failed (and I had to move into my parents’ basement), I would experience God in deeper ways and learn things I wouldn’t otherwise. Continue reading

Three Ways to Choose Life When You’re “Stuck”

This week has taken on the theme of “stuckness” so I thought I’d continue it on this One Word Friday.  

When we’re stuck, “LIFE” often seems to be a choice hiding like Waldo at a convention of clowns.  It requires determination and intention.

Again, this is not a magic formula, but here are three things I do to try to “choose life” when I’m stuck:

1.  Affirm the LIFE in others.  Write notes of encouragement and blessing, noting the value you see in others.

2.  Pray LIFE for others.  Take time to lift up others who are struggling in challenging circumstances.

3.  Practice gratitude for the LIFE around you.  I love the theory that I just read in Rhoda Janzen’s memoir, “Menonite Meets Mr. Right”.  She tells of a jar of water representing discontentment being displaced as we drop in rocks of gratitude.  The waters of discontent are forced out by the rocks of thankfulness.

What are some ways you choose life when you’re feeling stuck?  Consider posting in the comments below!

Here are just a few of the things I’m grateful for today.  I wish there was a way to waft the aroma of barbecue and lilacs and clover and to record the squeals of the kids on my block playing in their wading pool!

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Two Steps to Take When You Realize Your Prayer is a Fake

For a couple of weeks before Christmas we prayed a lot for our daughters, Maggie and Katy.

Maggie said she was afraid she might fail her statistics class in grad school because our family doesn’t do math.  This is the Instagram she posted.

math blackboard

And Katy was under a lot of pressure at work because, well, she had to coerce motivate people to do what they didn’t want to do.

I mobilized pray-ers.  Family.  Friends.  The occasional stranger who looked bored. Continue reading

Thanksgiving

Fall in Minnesota is like Mardi Gras.

Actually I don’t know that for sure because I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but Fall is a huge event.  A blazing last hurrah before THE DEPRIVATION of light and color and warmth for a long, long, time.  Sounds like Mardi Gras to me.

When we left Minneapolis two weeks ago for Africa, the firey autumnal luster was fading but leaves were valiantly clinging to branches, reluctant to give up the fight and die for the long, long, long frozen season of dark.

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Spoiler alert: they failed in their efforts.

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Now, we return to the black crooked limbs silhouetted against a gray November sky.  The leaves have lost the battle and lay cold on the ground. Twinkle lights try to replace the glow of harvest color and there’s a tug-o-war going on between those who want to start the Christmas carols now and those who don’t want to leap over Thanksgiving straight to the 24 hour holiday sales of the day after. Continue reading

Do You Have FOMO?

FOMO.  I just heard about this for the first time Wednesday morning on the Today show.  It’s an acronym that stands for the fear of missing out.  According to a new study, 56% of social media users have it.

FOMO is “a fear of one’s social standing or how one is perceived amongst peers, and a need to constantly know what is happening and what others are doing,” according to Elizabeth Lombardo, a clinical psychologist in NYC.

The study says, “The problem for people with a high level of FOMO is they may become so involved in seeing what their friends are doing and they are not, they often ignore what they are actually enjoying themselves.”

FOMO can cause anxiety, stress and, in more extreme cases, even depression…” she says.

  • Ever surreptitiously check your phone under the table’s edge in a meeting?
  • Perhaps you’ve walked into a lamp pole while checking Facebook on your phone? (This may, or may not have happened to me)
  • Do you check Twitter first thing in the morning before brushing your teeth?
  • Are you ever more present to Instagram than you are to your kids?
  • Have you been known to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s because you’re depressed by the wedding, vacation, or concert pictures someone posted?

What if our obsession with the lives of others, is causing us to miss our own life?

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Squashed

I’m really am a Christmas girl.  I love it all.  Well, almost all.  The snow and twinkle lights and candles and cookie-baking.

But Christmas also means more people.  Family and guests visiting, more traffic in parking lots, more people at parties.  And I’m an extrovert, so that’s ok except that when people are extra busy they’re stressed and not the best version of themselves so it’s easy to get squashed in the crush of “me” and “my” and “this is what I want”.

Basically we’re all a pretty opinionated and selfish lot.

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Endings and Beginnings

Today is Labor Day.  The unofficial end to summer.  For me it’s been my favorite summer ever.

But it was August 16th when this is what I found.

The very first glimmer of Fall.  An ending and a beginning.

I texted this picture to John, Katy, and Maggie and got two different responses:

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Games With Points and Spiritual Practices

A Spirit-stretch Friday re-post as I’m enjoying the spiritual practice of a short Sabbatical… 

Spiritual practices are usually kind of like workouts at the gym.  They’re supposed to stretch the spiritual muscles that need stretching…to practice what you hope will one day come naturally (like running a mile on the treadmill so that if one day you’re being chased by a bear you won’t collapse in a heap after 15 yards).

But that can sound a little…intense, so a couple weeks ago I decided to make a little game for myself.  In our family we LOVE games, especially games with points.  (In case you’re worried about my theology about now, I know discipleship isn’t a game and it is about grace and cooperating with God’s work in our lives.  Just give this a chance! :))

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How to Improve Your Monday

It’s Monday morning.

Yep, you may have had a stellar weekend picnicking in the sun, biking, going to the beach (like one of my daughters), listening to jazz outdoors in the park (like the other daughter), but now it’s Monday in all its Mondayness.  And the week stretches out in front of you like a flat road across the barren pan-handle of Oklahoma.

Before you buckle down and get to work, or answer emails, or start the laundry, read on.  It may make you feel better about your day.

Awhile ago I was listening to the radio and a woman called in with an experience that was, um…unbelievable except that it really happened.

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A Letter to my Daughters about Today

On this blog I share stories from my life, but my deepest prayer is that they wouldn’t be just about me, but about all of us and our quest to see the hand of God in all of life.  Even though this is to my daughters I hope it’s meaningful for parents and sons and daughters alike.

Dear Precious Girls,

As I write this we’re on our third flight coming home from Sri Lanka, through Bombay and Amsterdam.  Too much time to think.  Feeling out of sync with time changes, and nostalgic, and ready to sleep in my own bed and be in a normal summer routine that includes Minnesota lakes and green grass.

In this season, traveling to exotic places, experiencing the humidity and dust of ancient cultures, the taste of unusual spices and the the smell of incense and poverty, I am grateful.  But I also long for home and the simplicity of summer days when you both were little.

Playing Monopoly and hopscotch on the driveway, picking strawberries, and making water balloons, and walking to the library as we were serenaded by cicadas.  Creating forts and reading Betsy, Tacy, and Tib aloud on hot summer afternoons that we savored like melting popsicles, slurping up the goodness of the day.

I think in contrast, of this season of your life now, as young professional women living in D.C. where you have a vibrant faith community, stimulating dialog about important ideas, and the opportunity to experience Supreme Court arguments, Embassy receptions, and White House fireworks.  A good, good season.

I want you to savor every moment, drink up every drop.  To choose life in all its fullness.  This is the season of your life when you’ll set courageous goals and experience lovely victories and maybe fall flat on your face some too.  You’ll nurture deep friendships, look to wise mentors, and invest in causes that are deeply meaningful.

It’s the season when you get to ask yourself,  “What story do I want to be able to tell in fifteen years?”

In this season I pray you’ll pause, not only to acknowledge the good gifts, but also the Gift Giver.  Yeah, I know there are rough days with job stress, and not enough money, and bad hair days, and questions about what’s next and where, but still…

I may be tempted to look back with longing, and you to look forward with longing, but meanwhile there’s today.  Gregory Boyle quotes Thich Nhat Hahn saying “our true home is the present moment.

The Desert Fathers would repeat one word over and over.  Not “Jesus” or “Love”, but the word, “today”.  It reminded them where they needed to be.

So today, where you are, and where I am, let’s just choose life and thanksgiving in the present.  God is good.  We get to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in every season.

And when you come home this summer for a visit, let’s be sure to play Monopoly and go to Dairy Queen.