Showing posts from 2012

Why I'm (still) proud to be an American

Image read that title correctly. I'm (still) proud to be an American.

The world is not my "home"...but right now I live here. And I care deeply about where our country is going.
Do I believe that we have major problems?  Yes.
But despite all the crazy stuff going on, I'm (still) proud to be an American. For some reason, a person gets persecuted these days for saying that.
As a person of faith, I know that all the people of the world are on the same level at the foot of the cross. We are all deeply loved by our Creator- no matter where we live.
Still, I love my country.
I still get tears in my eyes when the National Anthem is played or sung. I can't help it.
I'm moved by the countless people who have given their lives to protect my freedom.
I still put my hand on my heart when reciting the pledge of allegiance. I must.
Fighting for what we feel is right- is right-  especially when it concerns things we hold sacred, timeless and true.
Worshiping without fe…

Gratefulness-It's not just for dinner anymore.

It's been approximately 60 days into my experiment.  Although I haven't written a lot in detail on this blog, I have been reflecting on the last two months a lot lately.   I thought I'd share my reflections with you.
Ten things I've learned (or have been reminded of) in my journey so far: This is not an experiment for sissies. It takes determination and perseverance- every day- every week- every month.It's a lesson in perspective. The more grateful I am, the more I find a higher perspective in my every day life. The bigger picture wins out.Gratefulness breeds humility, knowing that I receive more than I ever deserve.I can choose gratefulness. I can also choose entitlement. It's a choice.The more I practice thankfulness, the more my circumstances don't dictate my frame of mind.  What I think about and dwell on overcomes negativity and fear.Selfishness is easy and natural as breathing. Gratefulness is difficult to maintain. Gratefulness bears fruit that resemble…

There's this thing called life. It happens.

You know what I'm talking about.  You go along day by day thinking things are going okay. Oh sure, we all have our ups and downs.  But generally speaking it's "okay." And then when you least expect it. WHAM!
Why are we so surprised by this?
Each time we are whammed in the head, somehow we think that if we survive that hit it'll be awhile until we are smacked again. A breather. A break. Whew.
Why do we think this?
I got some bad news the other day about someone I care about. When one is in ministry, this tends to happen. Often.  You might be surprised how often. 
But this one I did not see coming.
The Truth? We make choices in life.  And choices have consequences. We are human. Our God is not bothered by our honest questions. He can take it. We are not somehow immune to hurt, pain and disappointment.- none of us are.

But this I know: We can have a hope that surpasses our unanswered questions.  We can have a peace that calms our "why me or why them."  We…

The Western Burger

So I'm at the burger king treating my son and his date to a pre-movie meal.   I see there's a new burger on the menu- something like a western burger.  So I cheerfully approach the gal behind the register.
Below is our short, yet revealing, exchange.
Me:  Hi! So how's the new burger?Her:  Um, what burger. Me:  The new one. The one with "new" next to it... Her:  Oh, the Western Burger. Me:  Yep. Her:  What again? Me:  How is it...the burger.  Her:  I don't eat here.  Me:  What?  Her: I don't eat here.  Me:  Okkaayyy.  Why?  Her:  I'm a vegetarian.  Me: (smirk) really? (pause)  Me:  You do realize you work at Burger King. I just had to tell this story at a workshop on leadership and team development I taught last week.  It was the perfect example of a person that was put in the "wrong seat of the bus"...and I would dare say she might have been on the wrong "bus" altogether!  It was a great reminder that for those we lead- and we all influenc…

Beginning With the End

Perspective. It's everything.  My Dad used to say "youth is wasted on the young." Now that I'm getting older, I'm starting to really get it. Think about it. Time and experience give us perspective.  How many of us would do things a little differently if we could go back with the wisdom, self-confidence and hindsight we have now?
How are we doing with our clearer "perspective"?
Check out this quote by a well-known leader in the business world: If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.  We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most. 
I like that ladder analogy. It's our choice where to place our "ladder" in order t…

Up to My Waist- Experiments in Gratitude

When getting into a lake, some people like to dive in head first.

Not me.
I have this need to slowly torture myself by getting in a couple inches at a time. 
I am now 30 days into the "experiment" and am now up to my waist. When I finally accomplish waist level, I feel like I've overcome the hardest part.  In reality, I dove in head first...but the discipline of the action can be very different from the emotional, mental and spiritual growth. Yes, I'm up to my waist.
It's not been easy. Any of you doing this with me know that to be true. But I also know this: developing a new habit- a potentially life altering habit- is never easy. 
It takes intention. It takes energy. It takes commitment. It takes a vision.
A few impressions in the past 30 days: I am blessed. You are blessed.When bad things happen, God is still good. Truly.Doors are closed, but others eventually open. They usually have a different shape and color than we expect.Peace in every circumstance is pri…

Week 1- Experiments in Gratitude

Thankfulness.  Gratefulness.  (Adj.) The realization that we are blessed.  In more ways- each day- than we realize. 

It's been an interesting experiment so far. It seems the minute I choose something and begin to "practice" thanksgiving throughout the day, I am suddenly in deep testing mode.  It's not been easy doing this for even a week.

This was a surprise to me.

For some reason I thought practicing thankfulness would be a breeze- natural- like breathing.  I had another thing coming.  I guess this thing that came was called "life."  As in the first day when I chose to practice gratitude for my job... it was the worst day on that job I've ever had.  I'm not kidding.

A sampling of what I practiced this week:

job(s)my beautiful housemoments of silencegood healththat we can choose growth, not apathythat we can pursue our calling in lifethe helper that brings peace, comfort and wisdom to my lifeNow, please understand that my list is not a reflection of my pr…

Experiments in Gratitude- The Beginning.

I had this idea the other day.  It came on a particularly bad day too.

It must be that little voice in my head again.

In fact, this idea was inspired by the very notion that sometimes...okay many isn't easy to focus on the positive. My gut tells me that it's more like human nature to dwell on the negative. Whether it be fear, doubt, worry, negative circumstances, the past, some annoying co-worker or a miriad of other emotions that crop up- let's face it- they can get the best of us.

I feel like I used to be more of a positive thinker when I was younger. Sometimes life has a way of wearing a person down.  In those times, it takes purpose and conviction to change the mind, and with God's help, the heart will follow.

My idea was this: What if, for 90 days, I purpose to focus on gratitude? How would it change me, my outlook, my relationships and every day life?

Here's the plan: Each morning I choose one thing to be grateful for. I write it down and remember it.…

Sighting of the Strange Kind

I have to tell you about something I saw on vacation.

So we're driving down the road towards our destination- an afternoon of zip-line action. 

We're enjoying the view, warm air in our face and sound of the waves hitting the shores of lake Michigan.  No job, no stress, no reality really.

Like the screeching of a record (yes, I remember what those are), the scene in front of my eyes broke my serene state of mind.  I turned to my husband and asked "did you just see what I just saw?" 

Right in front of us was- what looked like- the world's largest seagullgulping down an entire squirrel.  I am not kidding.  Head first, down it went until the tail was completely gone. We sat there with our mouths hanging open.

It's not like I ever thought those scavenger birds were cute or anything, but a whole squirrel?  That's just too much nature in one viewing!  I've never been the type to love those nature shows that expose the "circle of life."  I just don'…

The Person in Front of You

Gift Shop Revelation I was thinking recently about a little wall hanger I saw recently in a gift shop.  It read "appreciate the person in front of you."  I went on to the next thing, but then slowly walked caused me to pause...
...and I love words and phrases that cause me to pause. 
I stood in front of that little wall hanging so long that the sales person asked me twice if I wanted her to take it down for me to buy.  I'm not an impulse buyer.  I have to weigh all my options before I settle on my final purchase.  So I politely said "no thanks, just looking."  She was probably wondering if I'd ever leave that store.  She kept looking at me.  That made me nervous.
Anyway.  That little voice inside asked me if I really do that- you know- appreciate the person in front of me.  Sometimes that little voice makes me antsy.  And uncomfortable.
I had to admit that I, many times, don't.  I mean, people have told me I'm a great listener and should r…

Things I never knew before moving to rural Minnesota- Part I

If you know me, you know that in my life I've lived in a variety of environments- especially since I've been a professional.  I've gone from living the urban life, to a suburban life and recently a rural life.  Very rural.  Very very rural.

I've learned a lot about myself in this process, but in the past 2.5 years of living in rural Northwestern Minnesota, I've also learned some new words, more than I ever wanted to know about farm animals and other things I may have never learned in the city.  
This will be the first installment of "things I never knew."  So grab your favorite latte, sit back and enjoy.  Who may just learn something too.
oh fer is a phrase that can occur before a variety of words. I had never heard of this incredibly flexible two word phraseology before. In order to use it correctly however, you have to have the inflection of voice in just the right places.  For example:"Look at that puppy... oh fer cute!""The lar…

We Are All Neighbors

Sometimes it still shocks me when I'm talking with someone about 9/11.

I remember being in conversation with a good friend over coffee a few weeks after Sept. 11th, 2001.  Most people I knew were still in shock over the whole thing, recounting where they were when it happened and how they felt about it all.  Even to this day I can recall seeing it on FOX news as it was happening thinking, "we are under attack" even before that concept was even mentioned over the mainstream media.  But I digress...

So in this conversation over ten years ago, I vividly remember my friend saying something I'll never forget- "I don't feel much over this. Why do I care? I don't live in New York.  It hasn't impacted me."  WOW.

All I could do is sit and stare at this person whom I called friend, but yet suddenly feeling like I was sitting with a stranger.  We had such different points of view!  I was speechless.

I've recalled that conversation many times since and wond…

That There Girl

A simple moment.  The name stuck.

I was in college.  Sitting in the living room adorned with lace doilies and floral upholstery, tea and cookies were enjoyed by all.  Casual conversation felt comfortable, like the hand crafted quilt spread across the overstuffed chair I was sitting in.

Our elderly friends were full of interesting stories and lots of laughter.  

Suddenly a male voice pipes up above the others and declares rather loudly, "when is that piano girl going to play us that there piano?"  His wife looked at him and said, "She has a name ya know!" which he responded "Well, she IS the girl that plays piano ain't she?"

I smiled.  I played.  And the name was born.