Your closest exit may be behind you

A couple of weeks ago my husband, Michael and I headed to the mountains for some down time. Part of our relaxing vacation involved finding fishing holes for Michael. He drowns a few worms and I sit and read or write. It’s a perfect combination. A quick Google search located a huge lake 20 minutes away from our hotel. We stopped at a bait shop for a few things and then hit “start” to activate our adventure. It didn’t take long before we were off the beaten path. Winding up and down the narrow roads, following SIRI's every turn, we thought we might hear banjos at any moment. And then without so much as a glimpse of a body of water, SIRI announced, “Arrived.”

Have you ever gotten to a time in your life where you thought you should have "arrived" but it didn't look like what you thought it would? What did you do?

We tried to figure out if we had taken a wrong turn but we were squarely on the infamous blue line. Since we had come this far, we decided to go a little farther. Eventually we saw a sign: "lake access" with an arrow. We eagerly followed the signs and started seeing the lake through the trees until we arrived at a dead end in a parking lot for a boat ramp. Ugh. There were no gentle slopes to the lake where Michael could fish. No place to sit and read-just a steep sloping slab of concrete. This was worse than before. We could see it. We just couldn't get to it! "Lake access" meant access for boats. We would have to turn back.

I don't turn back. It's one of the greatest frustrations between me and my husband. I believe in forward progress... ALWAYS! I despise turning around. If we miss an exit, I'll convince my husband that whatever we need will be at the next exit.

Don't despise detours that seem to take you backwards. Instead, consider what they tell you on airplanes: "Keep in mind your closest exit may be behind you." If a plane was on fire and you refused to go to an exit behind you, you would be crazy!  Likewise if we had stayed there all day whining about how no one thought about people without boats, you would've called us crazy. And yet metaphorically I think a lot of us sit in a place where we "ended up" and shake our fist at the opportunities that don't exist for us instead of looking for the ones that do. What if you're only as stuck as you're unwillingness to move? 

We did go backwards that day. We backtracked. And with nothing more than a general direction we ended up at the best park ever! We were able to park right by the picnic tables and the fishing area. This park had a handicapped-accessible fishing dock so we didn't have to navigate a steep slope. There were plenty of trees so we were able to sit in the shade and take in the incredible view. What a wonderfully relaxing place we could've missed if we had given up. 

Going backward to go forward is not weakness. It's an opportunity to see and learn something you may have missed when you were there before. It's a chance to end up at the perfect place-YOUR perfect place. 

Where could you backtrack in your marriage, your career, your friendships that might take you to a new place of intimacy, fulfillment, or community your heart longs for? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They're not against you...

They’re not against you. They are just for themselves.” Anonymous

I’m not sure if this quote is attributed this way because the originator didn’t want to be identified or the fact that it is such a universal truth a lot of people could’ve said it.  It is truth. And one that is VITAL to understand when you feel like you are standing at a locked door to your future- when you feel trapped- in a form of everyday captivity.

One of my favorite movie characters is the CIA Operative, Maya, in the movie Zero Dark Thirty. She is a confident, kick-butt heroine who won’t stop for anyone or anything. From the moment she was hired out of high school, she studied Osama Bin Laden looking for ways to find him and bring him down. It was her purpose. It was her dream. It was why she was hired. Through her tenacity, she found information regarding Bin Laden’s location and shared it with her superiors. Day after day, week after week following this, nothing happened. In her frustration, every day without action, she took a red marker and marked the number of days that had passed on the glass window of her boss’ office. She changed the number EVERY day… (129 days in the picture I posted)

STOP. If you watch the movie immediately following this picture, one man says to her superior, “It’s her against the world.” Have you ever felt like that? It is you, knocking at the door, screaming at the door and no one is listening. It seems no one cares. But is this true? More times than not, people are not against you. They are just for something else.

Maya couldn’t hear what was happening on the other side of the door so she assumed nothing was being done, or at least not at the speed she desired. Sometimes we need to know that we don't always know what's happening on the other side of the door or glass window.

That scene reminded me of a situation I recently saw play out. I was visiting a mom whose daughter became severely ill overnight with no apparent reason. She was in ICU in a medically induced coma and her kidneys were failing. It was necessary to start dialysis so they ushered her mom out of the room to the waiting area and locked the door to the room. Mom had been by her daughter’s side non-stop for several days. They told her the dialysis would take 2-2 ½ hours. At hour 3, mom was irritated. At hour 4, she was infuriated. At hour 5, she was inconsolable. Shortly after 5 hours, mom heard the door unlocked. She raced in with a passion. Why had it taken so long? Why did they lock the door? Why did they keep her out? What were they doing to her daughter? In response, the medical team let her know their priority was her daughter. She needed more time than they had imagined. They weren't against the mom. They were simply FOR the daughter's healing and best interests.

So it was with Maya. Her superiors were not against her. They were just counting the cost. The stakes were huge. There was a bit of political ball being played. Her enemy was red tape. Mom's enemy wasn't the doctors. It was the disease.

Why do we jump to the conclusion first that people are against us? Is it our own insecurities? Our own pride to think that people actually think about us more than they do?

Who have you villainized or blamed because things aren't happening quickly enough or the way you thought they would?

It might be time to take them off the hook. They may have an agenda you don't know about. They may be protecting themselves because of some perceived threat. They may be doing the best they can as they fight their way through mountains of red tape. They may be choosing a mission over a man.

How can you change your perception today when you are tempted to believe people are against you?

 

 

 

 

Lack of Access, Progress and Frustration

There are few things more glorious than going on vacation to the beach. And there are few things more frustrating than a dud of a key card.

         You’ve worked hard. You packed. You fought traffic jams. You choked down drive-through food just to get there a few minutes earlier. Luckily you scored a luggage cart and artfully stack that sucker like a game of Jenga. You’re pretty sure removing one piece prematurely would bring the whole structure down but you’re not really sure which one it is. You unload your sleeping children, carrying them in one arm and try to push or pull the luggage cart with the other. (Why does it seem we always pick the wrong way first?) You finally make it to your room which is of course as far away from the elevator as possible.  You’re steps away from soft beds and the official start of your vacation. The only thing between you is the door. “Ahh, we made it!” You slide the card down the reader in the door, push the handle down… nuthin’! You slide it slower. You slide it faster. You close your eyes, hold your breath, open one eye hoping to see the little green light. Still nuthin’.

          In utter disgust you storm down to the front desk (as much as you can storm when you’re exhausted) and they apologize, cautioning you about keeping it too close to credit cards. (“It hasn’t even been in my wallet, people!”) In two seconds they have “re-coded” your card and you’re back on track until two days later when you’re coming back from the pool with the beach bags, cooler, pool noodles, towels, and whiney kids and it happens again!

         The frustration rises to a fever pitch.You’ve been denied access to something you have a right to. You planned for it. You paid for it. Why can’t you get in?  We all have places in our lives where we have been denied access-some locked door stands between us, and something we desire. We have planned for it. We have paid for it in some form or fashion. If God promises that He has plans for me to prosper and have a future, why can’t I get to it? Why can’t I get that promotion? Why has my husband shut me out? Why isn’t life working? Unanswered “whys” usher in frustration.

          I wasn’t at the beach this weekend. I’m was in the mountains. There were no toddlers in my arms, only a project I have been carrying for awhile. Quite honestly it feels like an eternity- like I’ve carried it to the last room at the end of the hall a few hundred times. I was standing at the door to my next- my more and it’s not opening. Why, Lord? I’m frustrated. I walked around expelling heavy sighs. The words on the pages didn’t even make sense any more. Why is this so hard? Why is it taking so long? In the absence of an immediate answer, I do whatever I CAN do. Whatever is in my ability, scope, or territory to impact.

          I did what I could do. I know it sounds a little like that irritating saying, “It is what it is.” But it’s true. So, I dove headlong back into the process. I tried everything- I wrote things that worked, and things I knew would end up in my trash folder. But I wrote. I also did the hard thing. I divided and conquered a huge editing project with my writing partner. Trudging through feedback I didn’t want to look at let alone consider. Finally, I took time to sit and look at the mountains- allowing the good sighs to come out too. And even though at times it felt like I was walking in circles, I know I made progress. I didn’t allow frustration or unanswered whys to stop me. (Not this weekend, at least.) I am convinced that one of these times, I will cross a threshold.

          Tell me what is frustrating you these days? At what locked door are you standing? What are you doing with your frustration? Leave a comment or send me a message. Let’s tackle this stuff together.

 

Pick a Lane and Crush the Crickets

Crickets... Crickets... Crickets...

My blog has been silent for a while. It’s not like I don’t have anything to say. I’ll pause while those of you who know me say, “You’ve got that right!” Okay, let’s move along.

I haven’t been blogging because I have too much to say. I’ve been suffering from analysis paralysis. I just want to share life lessons and since I’ve been around since the dinosaurs, I have plenty of them. I want to write about the book I just finished. I just want to write and encourage. I’m told by the experts my target is too broad. So for a season, I’m picking a lane, so to speak. I’m going to share tidbits from what I am most passionate right now-what I perceive to be my unique voice within our universal experiences. I’m choosing to write about principles from my book, “Conquering Everyday Captivity” – The power of creating proximity to unlock your more. (tagline still in process)

See what I learned in this past season is if you’re not dead yet, God has more for you. We’ve all felt some form of captivity in our daily life- where we feel trapped, stuck, limited in some way. We’ve felt like something is holding us back or hemming us in. What I’ve learned is that while my wounded self was tempted to shrink back, what God was asking me to do was to rise up and fill the space I’m in.

I want to share what I’ve learned about filling the space I’m in. I want to challenge your perceptions about where you are in life and what you can do about it. I want to show you how to thrive in captivity by creating proximity. As I’ve spent time living this material I know it’s not just for me. As I share bits and pieces of this with others I see a little light go on. I think that light is hope.

If your hope in the future has been wounded, join me in the journey. If you’ve ever felt “done” and wondered if there was more for you, hop aboard. If you’ve ever said, “there’s nothing I can do,” there IS something you can do and we’ll do it together. Whoo Hoo! I’m stoked!

There! I’ve picked a lane and I’m going to crush the crickets of inaction. How about you? 

What story are you telling?

As a Pastor and the Director of Communications at 12Stone Church one of my great joys is finding ways to share God's story with our community and our congregation. Right now we are in the middle of a project where we are turning the lobbies at our four anchor campuses into storytelling environments. Why not let our buildings speak and share God's story with those entering? As we began designing the elements people would encounter, I remembered what I learned at the Storybrand workshop with Donald Miller regarding the elements of a successful story. We boiled it down to 3 main thoughts:

Speak to the hero. The people walking through our doors are the hero. Many walking in are defeated. They need hope. They need to know they can win.

Speak as the guide. Too often churches position themselves as the hero. We are not the hero. We are the guide. People want direction. 

Speak with a plan and call to action. Jesus is the plan. Direct them to the full life Jesus offers and call out the best in people. Belief and encouragement moves more people than processes and programs.

As I worked through this project, I thought of the similarities between the church building and Christians as the temple. When people encounter me, what story do they hear? Do I position myself as the hero, constantly talking about myself-my cares, my concerns? Do I look for opportunities to guide people I meet? Am I tempted to position myself as an "expert" instead of a trusted guide who desires to share wisdom and experience for their benefit, not bolster my own ego? Lastly, do I allow people around me to cycle in negative and destructive thoughts and behaviors or do I boldly and lovingly speak up encouraging them to become the person God crated them to be?

We are telling God's story with our lives every day. For many people the only encounter they may have with God is their encounter with us. For many people the difference between hope and hopelessness may be that your belief they are the hero, that you are willing to be their trusted guide and that you will specifically call them to action and cheer them on. 

What story are you telling with your life? Who will you encounter today who needs to know they matter to you and they matter to God?

 

By the way, if you are a church communicator or in marketing in ANY field I highly recommend the StoryBrand Workshop with Donald Miller. Way better than another "conference." https://storybrand.com/workshop/

 

 

 

 

What have you learned?

What is a major life lesson you have learned? The organizers of the Women Conquering Conference where I am speaking March 19th posed this question. Pretty big question and I'm supposed to capture it on video. Time limit: 30 seconds.

"Where in the world do I begin?" I thought. I'm 50+ and there are a lot of major lessons I've learned in those years. I still carry the scars for some of them. So I started thinking about what God had done recently. I immediately recalled when I was challenged with the phrase "I don't think you have it in you. Prove it!" It rubbed me the wrong way because I am motivated more by belief than doubt. Don't get me wrong I enjoy a good challenge- just not that way.

So here is my answer... 

A life lesson that has had a huge impact on me was when I learned the difference between “prove yourself” and “show yourself.”

 “Prove yourself” is Satan’s bait to trap you into performance and an endless cycle of jumping up to hit some imaginary measuring stick. It will distract you and put you on the defense. He magnifies our insecurities and challenges our worth.

“Show yourself” is simply revealing what is already inside you. Even at his weakest in the desert, Jesus, as the Son of God, never proved his identity or his message. He never proved his miracles. He simply showed his scars and let Thomas decide for himself. He showed himself at the right time for the right reason.

As daughters and sons of the King we should never feel like we have to prove ourselves to anyone. We simply have to show who we are, whose we are and whatever God has put inside us that He wants to use for His Kingdom for such a time as this. 

What's a quick lesson you'd like to share? Is there something that changed your heart? Your perspective?

 

Legacy: The Dance Between Freckles and Age Spots

The other day I got a manicure- those “gel nails” the lady is always asking me to try. As she baked my hands multiple times I had the opportunity to look at my hands. I saw wonderful freckles that reminded me of growing up in South Florida. I used to hate when the sun would make my “born-with” freckles darker. I also saw age spots. I know that’s what they are even though I might be lucky enough to pass them off as larger freckles. It started to bother me a little bit until I started thinking that it really is the perfect picture of how I feel- young and old.

There are nothing like funerals and weddings to bring out those two feelings. I’ve had my share of funerals lately but last weekend I had the joy to attend the wedding of a special young couple. It was a picturesque setting with rolling hills. Even in the stark canvas of winter, it held its own beauty. The room was a symbol of its name: Legacy Lookout- solid wood beams, stone, candle light- all perfectly positioned high on a hill. 

The old and young of legacy were in full form; the father of the bride, handing his daughter to her betrothed, the two young loves holding hands exchanging vows, and the old married folks handing down words of wisdom in notes and prayers collected in a lantern.

And after the ceremony the party started. One of my favorite visuals of the celebration of generations was the perfectly choreographed mother-son dance to Queen's "Nothing's going to stop me now." They held hands, released and “shaked their groove things” with a fun and playful spirit. It was a celebration of years together and letting go to the next.

This celebration of young and old is a dance I'm learning within me and around me.

I am learning how to embrace my age spots as beautiful battle scars rich with experience and hard-learned insight.  And I'm learning I can still engage my freckles because I’m only as old as I feel, right? I mean after all I got out on the dance floor to Brick House AND Uptown Funk. I couldn’t help myself! And I wasn’t alone. There was the usual circle of women to dance with because our husbands are hesitant to bust a move. Except for those guys who own it- the ones secure enough at any age to do the worm or the sprinkler! (You know who you are!)

The truth is I wouldn’t change my freckles or my age spots or the legacy they represent. Legacy is all about the old and the young. It's about hands: dancing hand in hand with the next generation and when its time, you hand down wisdom, you hand over what you birthed and raised, whether it's a child, a business or a ministry, and you let go.