As You Go

I’m learning new things in new roles. When I’m in new situations, or when I’m asked to serve in new roles, I often say, “I haven’t done this before. I don’t think I’m the best person for this.”

Because I haven’t learned how to do something, I don’t try. Isn’t this ridiculous? How will I learn if I don’t try it?
Recently, I served in an emcee speaking role that involved tons of organization and management of people and details. I kept telling people I didn’t know how to do this! Don’t make me do this!
I got up on stage, and I did it. It wasn’t perfect, and one night I forgot everything and messed up the schedule. I learned so much from this night about myself and strategies on stage for handling this. 
I learned how to do this role, and just last week, I didn’t. That’s why living with flair means trying on new roles we know nothing about. That’s how we learn. 
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Overcoming

Today I hear a speaker use a timely turn of phrase. He says, “You don’t need to try to overcome your sin. Instead, let Christ overcome you.” Everything follows from that.

I think of being swept away, overcome by the majesty and power and beauty of God. 
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2 Lessons from Dr. Henry Cloud

I’m listening to Henry Cloud answer questions based on his expertise in leadership and clinical psychology. As guests present problems and ask for personal advice, I write down as many of Dr. Cloud’s golden words as I can. 

I glean some wisdom I needed! He imparts that one of the goals of parenting is helping children become resilient and resourceful when faced with problems. As parents, we can encourage our children to reach out to God, family, and friends for support. But we don’t rescue or solve problems; instead we invite resourcefulness and empower them.
Resourcefulness! I forget that my role as a parent isn’t to rescue or solve problems.  

also learn from Dr. Cloud the principle that “closed systems” eventually expire over time. He encouraged the audience members to continually keep our lives and work open to new energy and new intelligence. We stay open to God and others, and we seek to input fresh perspectives and support into our lives and work. 
I think about problems as opportunities to become resourceful. And I think of areas of my life that feel like closed systems. I open these places up to something new.
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If You Have a Sleepless Night

I’ve had two sleepless nights that fill me with anxiety that, because I’m sleep-deprived, I therefore cannot manage my emotions, perform at my best, and display patience and kindness. 

I think I’m able to endure many things, but enduring a bad night’s sleep is on my list of personal development goals! I’m just a wreck without sleep! 

I’m reminded of the number of times Paul  endured sleepless nights. God was still in charge, still empowering, still present, and still enabling Paul to overcome as more than a conquerer. 
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How Did It?

I meet with a student who wants to start a blog on just this question: “How did I see God working today?”

I think of the astonishing verse in John 5:17 when Jesus says, “My Father is always at work, and so am I.” I think about the beauty of Philippians 2:13 that “God works in you. . .”
God is at work! He’s always working in and around us. How different a day’s focus becomes when we allow ourselves to peer deeply into these moments to see God working. How did it happen? When? Where? Through whom? 
And why? And how did I know it was Him?

Can I trust that God is working to display His love, power, and glory?
He is always working. I love the idea of recording this work each day to build our faith. 
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With This Now Gone

Our microwave broke two days ago.

You would think this would be a terrible, terrible thing. Oh, but the things we have cooked–slowly and beautifully–without it.

I became old-fashioned like grandma, turning bacon in the pan. The smell filled even the upstairs. I became slow and patient, listening for the song of the tea kettle that heated my water on the gas stove. I became an expert in heating leftovers with olive oil in the pan and added my own seasonings to make it even better.

I embraced the sounds and smells of a different kind of day with this thing I thought we needed, now gone.

When something breaks, it might just be, like my friend Sandy reminded me, to put me back into the joy of an unhurried life.

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I Write Like a Mom

I love to write in a clean environment with absolutely no distractions, noise, or clutter. I would prefer a cup of coffee, a light snowfall, and a crackling fire. In this scenario, someone will deliver morning tea on a silver tray with delicate pastries. After all, I’m working hard; writers cannot be disturbed from their work. Someone else is doing laundry, cleaning dishes, and vacuuming. Someone else is making all the beds and wiping down bathroom counters.

And I’m clicking away at the keyboard, pausing only to sip my delicious and perfectly hot coffee.

Ha! It’s never been this way, and it never will. In the real version, children literally perform handstands behind me. I’m usually freezing at my desk. Someone is probably crying, and something has just spilled. It’s loud in here. I just heard the buzz of the dryer, so the laundry is ready to fold.

I learned in 2006 (I remember the exact week because my husband was traveling to assist with Hurricane Katrina clean up that Spring Break, months after the August 2005 disaster, and I had a fussy infant in one hand and a three year old who needed lunch immediately) how to write like a mom.

Depressed out of my mind and full of anxiety, I settled both children and sat at the makeshift desk crammed into one corner of our impossibly small bedroom of our first home. I had this idea for a novel, and I wanted to write. I just wanted to write. 

So I did. I wrote 140 pages during the next seven days (20 pages a day! I know!). The baby still cried; the house still needed cleaning; I still folded innumerable loads of laundry; I set up all kinds of crafts and activities for my oldest. And I wrote with more distractions, clutter, and noise than you can imagine. At night, zombie-eyed and hungry, I wrote until my head fell onto the desk.

I thought about that week this morning when I had planned a glorious writing morning for myself before my noon classes. But no. School is canceled, and amid cinnamon rolls, dishes, setting up activities, and noise, I’m sitting here to write. I had just whispered to myself, “Well, I guess no writing today,” when I remembered that conditions are never perfect for a mom. 

It’s the worst kind of background (I can actually hear the music to the Little Mermaid), but the mind is its own quiet place. I’ve had 13 years of practice to take whatever situation I’m in–a minivan, an airport, a hospital waiting room, a kitchen covered with glitter and flour–and write.

I just write. I write exactly like a mom.

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Prosper

I’m reading in Psalm 1 about the person who “delights in the law of the Lord” and who “meditates on it day and night.” This person gains a special privilege.

We’re told that “whatever he does prospers.”

Prospers! Don’t you think of wealth and success? Don’t you think of some kind of gain?

I’m learning to think about prosper in the sense of flourishing, growing stronger, becoming healthy. It’s a better, more accurate way to think about this promise. Whatever we’re doing, as we delight in God and meditate on the scriptures, we receive assurance that these spirit-led things flourish and grow. They become strong and healthy in unusual and unexpected ways.

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