6 Things I’m Learning About Handling Criticism

In our relationship John and I often say that the emotional trajectory of my typical day looks like this:roller-coaster-ftr

And John’s emotional trajectory looks like this:IMG_0532

So when a young woman I mentor asked if she could come over and talk to us about how John has navigated the crises and criticism of leadership with a “non-anxious presence” and how I have achieved the victory of not, you know…killing, any of those critics, we said, “of course!”

John’s temperament just naturally sets him up better for criticism, but he also has a lot of wisdom to share and I have a lot to learn.  Our conversation made me reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned  I am trying to learn about dealing with criticism.

Here are a few: Continue reading

5 Questions About…

Do you have a nickname?  It’s not a nickname exactly, but in our family, and with my close friends, I’m known as “Idea Woman”.

I’ve shared before that husband John says the first line of the 4 Spiritual Laws should really read: God loves you and LAURA has a wonderful plan for your life!


So, I’ll admit that there are people who see me coming with that “IDEA gleam” in my eye and are tempted to run away.

The other thing I’m accused of is grilling asking a lot of questions of people I meet.  Frankly, besides wanting to be a spy, I also want to be Katie Couric (and yes, look like her too).

All that to say, I’m really excited about an idea I had for a new blog series called “5 Questions About….”  I have so many incredibly talented friends that I thought, what if I send some of them 5 questions about different topics that they have great insights on?

So, one day weekly til l run out of friends or topics, we’ll be doing 5 Questions About… Leadership, Hospitality, Singleness, God’s plans, Mentoring, Risk, etc.  (I’ll alternate these with One Word posts.)

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” Werner Heisenberg

Everyone is an expert at something.  Who is someone with a gift or a skill you’d like to learn from?  Give them a call today and set up a time for coffee.  You might say, “I really admire your understanding of ________ and I’d love to learn from you.  Could we spend an hour together?”  Everyone likes to share their knowledge and experience!

There’s so much we can learn from each other!

Proverbs 23:12 says, Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge.

What’s a topic you’d like to ask 5 questions about?  


Among the Ruins

qtThis is my view outside Latimer house where we’re staying while husband John is in meetings.  I know!  Pretty wonderful!  It looks a little like Downton Abbey but with trees around it, on a hill overlooking the Chess Valley in England.

Earlier I was in the library, but it is an unusually beautiful spring day and the English countryside kept whispering to me to come outside.


All that to say, I’m feeling very British-y.  Our cab driver in London actually said “Cheers, mate!” with a straight face.  I didn’t know that was an actual thing.

Yesterday we walked Oxford and now I’m longing to go back and re-read everything C.S. Lewis wrote.

view from church

I came across a quote from Lewis that really sums up what I’ve experienced over the past few weeks.

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.”

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Changing the Conversation

Last night most of America was watching the Oscars...the red carpet beautiful people who seem to be as good at dodging questions as a politician running for office.  Many questions the press hurls at them are inappropriately personal or just stupid.  Who wouldn’t want to avoid some of that?  But there are other times when changing the conversation is positive, and important to growth.

This afternoon I’m leaving on a trip to Israel/Palestine.  I’m traveling with a few people from our church, led by Telos, an organization we’ve been partnering with that desires to engage evangelicals in conversations with Israelis and Palestinians pursuing peace.

This is hard stuff.  Complicated and intense and emotional, and personal for so many.  Frankly, I might prefer it if Jesus invited me to follow Him into, say…Hawaii maybe. Continue reading

One Quality That Sets a Leader Apart

I look around the conference room in a San Francisco church.

The round tables are filled with high capacity young leaders.  Some have brought with them the early career fatigue of balancing family and ministry and finances, and communities resistant to innovation.  There are too few minorities in the room.  And too few women.  We all know more than we do.  We all wrestle to be authentic and not just tell our “success stories”.  Instead, to talk about our doubts and hopes and fears.

As I sit with these leaders for the day there’s something I notice that sets them apart.  They come with the posture of learners.  They have strength and resolve, but also humility. They ask good questions.  They listen.

They live into the belief that anyone anywhere is a potential mentor, whether younger or older, blue collar or white collar, mom or migrant worker.

We often hear the refrain, “Leaders are learners.” and it’s true.  But it’s important to say more than that.   Continue reading

Good Fights

I think I had a pretty good fight recently.  Not great, but it was progress.  Let me backtrack.

Someone did something that made me, well… furious!


I grew up in a home where there was very little conflict, and when there was, we ignored it.

You know, like a kid who thinks if he closes his eyes no one will see him.  So conflict’s not really been my thing.  It’s had to be a growing edge for me as an adult.

And I’ve done it wrong. A. Lot.

When someone said something thoughtless, or did something mean, or (gasp!) was controlling or dismissive or disagreed with me…

I’ve done the angry email thing and the passive-aggressive thing, and the withdraw and punish thing…

See, I told you I was bad at this!

But the other day, once I settled down, I experienced a tiny (and I mean tiny) victory.  Continue reading


Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” Mt. 2:2

This fall John preached a sermon in which he asked the congregation to close their eyes and point to the direction they thought was north.  This is a picture of what happened.


Although many got it right, there were also those who’d be in trouble if they were a migrating goose.  One of the challenges of the with-God life is keeping our bearings.  Aligning ourselves with God’s true north.

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The Temptation of Cool

This week we’re in Atlanta for the Catalyst Conference.

For the uninitiated, this is the church world equivalent of the cool kids’ table in Junior high.  The one with the vibe that everyone wants.

Catalyst is for the young and hip – the guys who wear the rumpled uniform of untucked plaid flannel shirts or V-neck t’s, super skinny jeans and tiny black Rob Bell glasses.

They use product that makes their hair spiky or shave their heads if there’s not enough “there” there to mousse.  You used to see a lot soul patch and piercings going on, but not so much lately.

People like to write about Catalyst.  Tweet about it. It’s a good place to see and be seen.

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Who’s Dancing With You?

Taking a little August Sabbatical so I thought I’d repost one of the most popular entries from this past year.  I’m glad you liked it!

really admire my husband.

He’s brilliant and wise and athletic and better than me at everything.

Except maybe one thing.

When we were dating, we never danced.                                                                                 And when we got married we didn’t have dancing at our reception.                                    And when we went to our first wedding reception as a married couple he didn’t ask me to dance and I cried and was sure he didn’t really love me.

I wrote recently that some friends and I have wrangled our husbands into taking dance lessons, and I’ve finally discovered why this has not been part of our life together up til now.  I’m not gonna sugar coat it.  I’m no Ginger Rogers, but John is truly bad.   I don’t understand it.  How can someone who’s so coordinated in so many other areas be so…not…in this area?  Sometimes we just have to stop trying because we’re laughing so hard.

It’s one thing to have a humility thrust upon you.  You make a mistake and have to apologize.  Like BP.  Or the captain of the cruise ship in Italy.  Or Lindsay Lohan.  You’re given a job to do and things don’t go well.  You’re humbled.

But to choose to step into a situation where you know you’re weak, vulnerable, open to ridicule?  That takes love.

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How do You Right-size?

I love the story of Teddy Roosevelt who used to take his friends outside at night, look up at the stars and recite the wonders of God’s creation.

Marveling at the Milky Way, the searching out the spiral Galaxy of Andromeda…

After awhile he would say, “Now I think we’re small enough.  Let’s go to bed!”

Continue reading